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Published: 8th March 2024 | In: Insights

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements and rights of women across the globe.

This International Women’s Day, we caught up with Louise McArthur – Senior QA Engineer and Natacha Braz – Data Analyst who were part of the latest cohort of Quorum Cyber’s partner programme: Empowering Women in Cyber.

Delivered by Empowering You and in association with the Scottish Digital Academy, Scottish Government and ScotlandIS, the Empowering Women in Cyber Programme  is designed to enable the transition of aspirational and early to mid-career professionals, team leaders and managers into more confident, capable and energised leaders.

Both Louise and Natacha applied to the Empowering Women in Cyber programme last year after listening to previous Quorum Cyber women, who had already completed the course, talking about what they had learnt and gained from their own experiences.

Louise said, “For me, it was about gaining confidence in myself, believing that I did have a voice in conversations, that my opinion mattered and that I do know my area of expertise better than anyone else. Within the predominantly male dominated industry, it can be easy to be brushed off with comments like: ‘she’s emotional’, ‘she’s taking things personally’, ‘we’ll talk about this offline’. Doing this course helped me understand that firstly, that was not ok for people to speak like that, but secondly having feelings and using those to get results is a positive, not a negative like some people want to make you believe.”

Spread over four days within three months, the Empowering Women in Cyber workshops encouraged: active listening, soft skills around people management and getting the best out of people, coaching others, and above all, understanding yourself. Learning to really listen to people and coaching them to see things for themselves proved to be fantastic life skills for both Louise and Natacha.

The programme also focused on learning about different personality types and understanding why people act in certain ways. Louise commented, “One thing I struggled with initially was letting go of my walls that have been up, sharing my personal struggles and being supported by women who unfortunately have all felt similar feelings at different times. Being open and vulnerable to a room of initial strangers was terrifying but having them then guide you and make you feel strong again was, for me, a lifechanging experience.”

When asked if she would recommend this programme to other women in the industry, Natacha answered, ‘It’s made me feel stronger and more confident in both my personal and work life. I’ve also learned that my role and opinion matter in the workplace. Not only that but the friends and network I have made as a result of this programme have been a great bonus!’

In line with this year’s International Women’s Day theme of Inspiring Inclusion, the Women in Cyber programme has helped both Louise and Natacha feel included in, what is a typically male dominated industry, in the following ways:

  • No matter people’s backgrounds, we can all unite to work, learn and develop each other.
  • By acknowledging our perceived weaknesses, we can identify which ones are actually strengths on a second look.
  • Not letting imposter syndrome win!

International Women’s is marked annually across the globe on 8 March. Learn more here.