Today, March 8, we are proud to celebrate International Women’s Day, a global awareness campaign that aims to celebrate the achievement of women all over the world, bring awareness to gender equality, and take a stand against gender bias. This year’s International Women’s Day theme, #BreaktheBias, is a call to action to confront gender bias and inequity head on. In 2013, women only made up 11% of the global cybersecurity workforce. Today, while that number is at 24%, there is still work to be done. We’re shining a light on women at Onapsis who are part of a shifting generation. Throughout the month, we will be highlighting women on our global team and share the various paths they took to get into tech and cybersecurity.
For our first spotlight, we’re sharing the story of Mariana Lasprilla. Mariana is a Quality and Delivery Manager for our Control Product and sits in our engineering team, with three teams reporting to her: QA and Automation, DevOps, and Support. These three teams support Onapsis’s Development team in building better products faster. Hear directly from Mariana on how she got started in tech and her advice for women looking to break into the field.
Q: How did you get started in tech/cybersecurity?
A: I discovered programming as a tween and was immediately hooked. Luckily, I grew up in Venezuela, where IT is not seen as a male dominated field — the Computer Science field in my city had over 60% female enrollment! A career in IT seemed natural to me. Cybersecurity was more of a chance encounter. After a decade working with SAP systems, I joined Virtual Forge, now Onapsis, and discovered the world of security. It’s been a challenging but rewarding journey; I love the complexity of the problems that we aim to solve, and especially knowing that we are helping keep our customer systems secure.
Q: What does a typical day as a Quality and Delivery Manager look like?
A: On a typical day, we hold alignment meetings with Delivery, QA, and Support on the content and timeline of the upcoming patch for our latest releases or to discuss upcoming features and dependencies between our technical components with Development. I also often review the design and implementation of a test automation developed in my team, or debug together “flaky” tests. Occasionally, I even get to test or write an automation for an upcoming feature.
Q: Who has meant the most to you as an ally?
A: I’ve been lucky throughout my career to have several managers who not only supported me but encouraged me to take on new responsibilities; my gender was never an issue to them (Gerhard Bader and Sebastian Schönhöfer — you rock!). But above all, I am thankful for my husband’s support and our shared belief in equal parenting, so we can both combined fulfilling careers with raising our two boys.
Q: What advice do you have for women considering a career in tech or cybersecurity?
A: Dare to join the field! It is so worth it. Often you may find yourself the only woman in the room, but don’t let that become a self-imposed limit. If you’ve done the work and got the knowledge, you deserve to be in there as much as everyone else. And if you bring value, your colleagues will see you as part of the team, regardless of your gender.
Q: Why is this year’s theme “Break the Bias” an important message?
A: ‘Break the Bias’ is a great reminder that we are all responsible for stopping gender discrimination. In a way, it is easier to get discouraged and accept injustice as ‘the way things are’ or too difficult to change, but we must persist. Things can and will change if we all act toward that change — if we call out bias when we see it and if we dare to go against the norm.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
A: Change is possible! Throughout the last two decades working in Germany, I’ve witnessed first-hand the number of women in IT growing slowly but steadily, and I’m confident that we can continue to advance toward more gender balance and less bias in the industry.
- Resources to Get Started in Security
- Addressing the Cybersecurity Skills Gap
- Make Security a Priority