Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon will host the Women in Cybersecurity Conference

March 28, 2019

Celebrating women in cybersecurity

Supporting the community of women in cybersecurity and highlighting the work of accomplished women from across academia and industry are Carnegie Mellon University's goals as the host of this week’s Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) conference.

By Jessica Shirley


At a time when women represent less than 20 percent of the cybersecurity workforce, this week's Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) conference will bring together nearly 1,200 cybersecurity students, faculty, researchers and professionals to network, mentor and share knowledge. Above all, the conference will create a community of support and engagement for women in the field.

Hosted by Carnegie Mellon University from March 28-30 in Pittsburgh, the sixth annual WiCyS conference will highlight the work of accomplished women from across academia and industry. Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis, the Barbara Lazarus Professor in Information Networking and director of the Information Networking Institute’s (INI), has served as program co-lead for WiCyS 2019 alongside Bobbie Stempfley, the director of Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute’s CERT Division.

As a conference sponsor since 2014, the INI is a longstanding supporter of WiCyS. This year, INI students, faculty and alumni will attend the conference to present their work, network with women leaders and showcase CMU's commitment to increasing diversity in the cybersecurity field.

“I believe the attendees of WiCyS are the future of cybersecurity,” said Haritos Tsamitis. “I hope to inspire them to put their whole heart into this incredible conference experience. CMU is the birthplace of cybersecurity, so it’s only fitting we host the next generation of security researchers, hackers, and leaders in Pittsburgh.”

The following INI students will attend WiCyS 2019 as volunteers and conference scholars:

"I hope to interact with the top minds in the field, learn from their experiences, make new connections and expand my knowledge on the latest focuses in cybersecurity through the various talks and panels," said Balachandran.

Several of the INI student attendees are in fact returning for the second or third time to participate in one of the most prestigious women-oriented security conferences in the world.

By attending WiCyS 2018, Brakaspathy was reassured to see women leaders in the industry and felt motivated to excel in the field and leave her own mark.

"It was a truly amazing experience to see so many women passionate about information security and enthused to be part of the battle against the rising cyber-attacks," she said.

Follow along with the CONFERENCE conversation ON Social Media using Hashtags: #WICYS2019 and #CMUATWICYS. 

Paying it Forward: How Women in Tech Groups Can Spark a Culture Shift, and How You Can Help! 


Panel: Saturday, March 31, 12:15-1:00 p.m. Ballroom 3 

"We'll discuss building a culture of allies, the importance of intersectionality and how to launch similar groups at schools and workplaces. For women's employee resource groups to truly be impactful, participants must prioritize equality for all and dedicate themselves to having an impact on the broader organizational culture."

– Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis, director of the INI

The panel will feature INI alumnae Saralee Kunlong and Divya Ashok, in addition to Era Vuksani, a current INI student and co-chair of Women@INI.

INI Highlights at #WiCyS2019

Thursday, March 28

11:25 a.m. -12:30 p.m. GenCyberDay
Panel: Introduction to High School Cybersecurity Programs
Carolina Zarate, INI Integrated Information Security student

2-4 p.m. Commonwealth 2
Workshop: Blue Team CTF
Elizabeth Schweinsberg, Facebook and INI alumna

7-9 p.m. Benedum 
CMU Social


Friday, March 29

8:45-9:15 a.m. Ballroom 1 and 2 
Opening Remarks: CMU speakers include Lorrie Cranor, Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis, Bobbie Stempfley and President Farnam Jahanian

10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. and 2:15-6:30 p.m. Kings Garden
Career Fair, INI Admissions TeamLisa Currin and Jennifer Spirer

5:45-6:30 p.m. Ballroom 3 
BF1: Surviving and Thriving as a Woman in Cybersecurity
Jen Burns, The MITRE Corporation and INI alumna

7:20-8 p.m. Ballroom 1 and 2
Welcome: Dhivya Chandramonleeswaran, lead security researcher for Adobe and INI alumna

Keynote: Tales of an Accidental Computer Science Professor 
Lorrie Faith Cranor, director of CyLab

Saturday, March 30

9:30-10:15 a.m. Ballroom 1 and 2 
Lightning Talk: Spotting Security Flaws in Code Before It's Written 
Yasmine Kandissounon, Rackspace and INI alumna

11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Commonwealth 2 
Presentation: Cybersecurity: Hollywood vs. Reality 
Vidya Gopalakrishnan, Palo Alto Networks and INI alumna

12:15-1 p.m. Ballroom 3 
Panel: Paying it Forward: How Women in Tech Groups Can Spark a Culture Shift, and How You Can Help! 
Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis, director of INI 
Saralee Kunlong, YP and INI alumna
Divya Ashok, Salesforce and INI alumna
Era Vuksani, INI M.S. in Information Security student

#CMUatWICYS Advice

"The career fair at WiCyS is amazing and very personal, due to the smaller set of people it will be focusing on. It's a great opportunity to not only get to know more about the different organizations but also meet and connect in person with the people of the organization Also ,do not miss the keynote speeches, they are really inspiring."

Meenakshy Balachandran (MSIS), 2019 WiCyS Scholar 




"Go talk and network! The spirit of WiCyS is to connect, inspire and guide women technologists in the field of security. Everyone present there is an ambassador for women's empowerment and will give you some kind of insight which will help you either professionally or personally."

Karthika Brakaspathy (MSIS), 2019 WiCyS Scholar


“Network. As much as possible. It's a platform where you could meet some of most skillful and talented women in tech. You never know: you could find a potential mentor in someone or you might end up mentoring someone yourself, after the conference.”

 Vidya Gopalakrishnan ('18 INI alumna), 2019 WiCyS Speaker