NATO encourages women’s participation in cyber security

  • 30 Oct. 2019 - 31 Oct. 2019
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  • Last updated: 22 Nov. 2019 11:18

Experts and researchers shared their inspiring experience and successes in women’s participation in cyber security and looked at future challenges during a NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme workshop in Qatar from 30 to 31 October 2019. The event, hosted by the KINDI Center for Computing Research of Qatar University, was the first SPS activity hosted in the country.

High-level audience including representatives from the Qatari government, NATO member states and Qatar University.

Encouraging engagement and building networks

This SPS Advanced Research Workshop gathered experts from the region and beyond to discuss how women could be encouraged to participate in the cyber workforce. To have better chances of success in protecting networks against cyberattacks, taking into consideration a variety of perspectives is crucial. The experience of women can enrich and challenge the understanding of the topic. “The cyber security field and its workforce needs are expected to expand. Encouraging women is not only a matter of equality, but also of opportunity,” said Dr Deniz Beten, Senior NATO SPS and Partnership Cooperation Advisor.

All speakers at the event, co-organised by France and Qatar, were women. They addressed the topic not only through the lens of the private sector, academia and government, but also from the perspective of cyber engineers, analysts, policy makers and diplomats. Participants also took the opportunity to network and broaden their awareness of the role of women in this field. For instance, existing networks aiming to connect, mentor and support women cyber professionals in the Middle East region were presented to an engaged audience by Fatma Fuad, a senior systems engineer from Kuwait.

Group photo of speakers at the event.

Sharing expertise and success stories

Speakers from France, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Qatar, Switzerland and Turkey shared their experiences on how to ensure security and stability of cyberspace. They discussed future challenges in cyber security, protection of critical infrastructure, artificial intelligence and quantum computing on a technical and operational level.

Participants also learned from outstanding role models, such as Dr Hessa Al Jaber, first-ever Minister of Information and Communications Technology of Qatar. “NATO can showcase best practices in this field, which can have an impact on greater inclusivity and equality in cyber security,” said Dr Noora Fetais, Director of the KINDI Center.

Moving forward

As a follow-up, participants recommended to expand the network of women cyber experts spanning NATO and partner nations, and to continue motivating and attracting young talent.

The KINDI Center facilitates and supports cyber security research by capitalising on existing research in this field, and by leveraging existing local and international partnerships.