E21 - Tanya Janca at We Hack Purple Academy13 July, 2023
On today’s episode of the Women in Tech spin-off series, we are joined by Cyber Security Consultant Libby Stein and special guest, Tanya Janca, Founder, CEO and Security Trainer at We Hack Purple Academy. During this episode, Tanya shares her experience starting in the tech space as a woman and the inspiration behind starting her own company. Tanya also shares why she thinks it’s so important for organisations to encourage more women in the technology space and some advice to women who want to start in the industry.
Tanya began her career as a software developer, spending a large amount of time gaining her skills in that domain. But as an extroverted individual who thrives on communication and interaction, she realised that her true calling lay in application security.
While working as a software developer for the Canadian government, Tanya wanted to receive training in application security. Unfortunately, limited resources and funding within her organisation made it challenging for her to access educational opportunities. Tanya found an alternative route to expand her knowledge: speaking at conferences. By sharing her insights and expertise with others, she could attend these events for free, enabling her to learn from industry experts and stay at the forefront of technological advancements.
Tanya’s commitment to sharing knowledge eventually caught the attention of Microsoft. Impressed by her skills and dedication, they offered her a role where she could represent the company as a speaker. Microsoft recognised the importance of scalability so encouraged her to do just that. She then made the bold decision to establish her own company, We Hack Purple Academy.
Expanding Opportunities for Women in Tech
One effective strategy for encouraging women in tech is putting in mentoring programs. By pairing experienced professionals with aspiring women in the field, organisations can provide guidance, support, and valuable networking opportunities.
Businesses can actively contribute to bridging gender diversity in tech by expanding their co-op programs to include students from a wide range of colleges and university programs. By reaching out to institutions that may not traditionally offer cybersecurity programs, companies can tap into a diverse talent pool and provide opportunities for students with varied backgrounds to explore tech careers.
Challenging Workplace Dynamics
Tanya’s experience highlights a crucial issue—the impact of gender dynamics in a predominantly male-dominated field. When women are underrepresented, the dynamics in the workplace can be influenced, leading to potential biases, stereotypes, and a lack of inclusive behaviours. By encouraging more women to join the tech industry, organisations can create a more balanced and inclusive environment where all employees feel valued and respected.
The shortage of skilled professionals in the tech industry is a pressing concern. By actively encouraging women to pursue tech careers, organisations can tap into a significant pool of untapped talent. Expanding the diversity of the workforce not only helps fill the existing job openings but also brings diverse perspectives, experiences, and problem-solving approaches to the industry. Additionally, embracing diversity in terms of race, religion, disability, and other factors contributes to a well-rounded and resilient workforce.
As someone working in the defence space, she sees that the tech industry is currently facing challenges in winning the battle against cyberattacks. By encouraging more women to enter the field of cybersecurity, companies can harness a broader range of skills, insights, and ideas.
Advice for Women in Tech
Seeking a professional mentor is invaluable for personal and career development. Look for mentors who have faced similar challenges and overcome barriers in their own tech journeys.
For individuals who are part of underrepresented groups, joining communities specifically tailored to your minority group is crucial. These communities offer a safe space to connect with peers who understand the unique challenges and experiences you face.
Recognise that different mentors can offer diverse perspectives. Consider having multiple mentors to address various aspects of your personal and professional growth. Each mentor can provide insights into different areas such as technical skills, leadership development, or work-life balance.
Tune in on the 11/07/2023 to hear the full episode!