By Isabel Whitsett
The Women in Cybersecurity Club at Riverside City College, also known as WiCyS, stepped forward to share its perspective on equality for women in honor of Women’s History month.
Saem Lee, president of WiCyS Student Chapter, shared her experience at RCC.
“Our campus is very welcoming and is a place for all to learn and get involved,” she said. “It’s so nice to have a club with other women who are just as passionate about cybersecurity as I am — where we all uplift and help each other. It’s a very positive atmosphere.”
WiCyS was established in 2012 with help from the National Science Foundation grant and was created to propel women to achieve success in their chosen career paths. The Student Chapter at RCC and other colleges alike “inspire and engage future cybersecurity professionals.”
Computer science is relatively broad, therefore, incorporating a cybersecurity club at RCC specifically for women aids in further success for those women in a field where the majority are men.
The ISC2 Cybersecurity Workforce Report states that men outnumber women 3 to 1 in the profession. As of 2019, women made up 24% of the workforce, as compared to 2017, when only 11% in the career were women. Although women are on the rise in the field, they still face compensation issues in comparison to their male counterparts, at a 12% gap.
The club, dedicated to women’s advancement in cybersecurity, came to be at RCC due to the field being male-dominated.
Emily Hillig, an autistic member of WiCyS, sheds some light on the subject.
“Despite the name, WiCyS is not exclusive to just women,” she said. “The fundamental ideology for WiCyS is to uplift and empower women in cybersecurity. If you believe in the mission to recruit, retain, and advance the position of women in cybersecurity, you are welcome here.”
Hillig went on to mention the club’s adviser, Skip Berry, acknowledging how great of an addition to the club he is.
“Our club adviser is so great to have on our team,” Hillig said. “His insight is always welcomed, very helpful and appreciated. Even though our title is specific to gender, we aren’t opposed to hearing what he has to say since his credentials are recognized.”
WiCyS is the only club specifically for women at RCC, however, Hillig believes its creation provides a good incentive for more women’s clubs to form at this institution.
“I think RCC has done well with incorporating this club,” Hillig said. “Seeing more clubs for women form for majors with more male-dominating statistics would also be a good thing. I believe WiCyS has started the path towards having more of them.”