Johanna Vazzana knew the job she’d applied for was a stretch. Vazzana, now a cybersecurity strategist working at Mitre, was interviewing early in her career for a technical cybersecurity position with a Fortune 500 company. Though she lacked a computer science degree, she’d taught herself relevant skills and racked up certifications that she hoped would fill in the educational and experiential gaps.
But during the interview, the hiring manager didn’t harp on her inadequate skillset. Instead, he told her: “I’m surprised to be interviewing a mom.”
The experience served as an introduction to a discriminatory dynamic she’s continued to observe in the industry. “It was the first time I remember being aware that there was some correlation between my being a mother (or a woman, or a parent, or something personal) and my being considered for a job,” Vazzana wrote in New America’s publication Humans of Cybersecurity.
Although Vazzana’s interview was nearly a decade ago (and, spoiler alert, she didn’t get that job), there’s plenty of evidence that overt and covert gender discrimination endures, and that it’s part of what’s suppressing the numbers of women in cybersecurity.