Paving the Way for Women in Cybersecurity
After working in sales for 10 years, graduate student Talise Geer didn’t see herself going back to school—especially not in a STEM field. Today, she is enrolled in the Cybersecurity, M.S. program, preparing to capitalize on the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals, as more companies realize the need to protect against threats to their data, information technology (IT) assets, and other resources.
Female representation in cybersecurity is low. According to Cybercrime Magazine study, women account for only 20 percent of global information security payrolls. Geer is well aware of this gender gap and intends to use her own experience to encourage other women to enter the field.
She is already proving to be a role model. She was recently a finalist and recipient of a prestigious Vanguard Student Recognition Award. To be considered for the award, students must excel in a program in which their gender is traditionally underrepresented.
The Box caught up with Geer to hear more about her future plans.
What led you to study cybersecurity at New York Tech?
When I was researching graduate schools, I wanted a place where I would flourish, was local, and stood out for its academic excellence. New York Institute of Technology checked off all of the boxes for me. Here on Long Island, it is one of two National Security Agency National Centers for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. The College of Engineering and Computing Sciences faculty were researching interesting topics and I was completely blown away with the Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Center (ETIC). I loved how undergraduate and graduate students collaborate on innovative projects.
Can you talk a little about your journey?
After working 10 years in sales, I wanted a career that provided higher pay, upward mobility, job security, and sparked joy in me. I fell in love with cybersecurity when I was a student at Suffolk County Community College in the A.A.S Information Assurance and Cybersecurity program. My first class was Introduction to Networks and it was amazing. I never actually thought I would be getting a second master’s degree, especially in a STEM field but here I am. A future career in cybersecurity to me is about being happy and enjoying what I do each day. I’ve had jobs where I dreaded going to work and not having an option to find another one. Cybersecurity is a growing field with a gap between the current workforce supply and high demand. I plan to use that to my advantage.
How did you become a finalist for the prestigious Vanguard Student Recognition Award?
I was nominated by Professor Susan Frank at Suffolk. To be considered you must be an outstanding student enrolled in a career and technical education program that is not traditional for your gender. I had Dr. Frank for several of my classes at Suffolk so she knew my work ethic and felt I deserved to be nominated. It’s been great to be recognized for my hard work and it’s a confidence builder. The nomination, and now, award allows me to differentiate myself based on academic excellence in a male-dominated field. The Vanguard award will hopefully let girls know that we can do difficult things and no gender has a monopoly in any profession. Finally, I want women who are in dead-end jobs to rethink a career in cybersecurity.
How has New York Tech prepared you for the future and your career?
I know a New York Tech education will be worth its weight in gold. The Vanguard award is the beginning. After I graduate, my goal is to become a penetration tester and open my own cybersecurity firm. All of my core classes, electives, and the great resources the campus has to offer will be beneficial to me. I am looking forward to taking advantage of everything New York Tech has to offer.