Women in Cybersecurity 2022


Despite increased interest in the cybersecurity field, the gender gap persists. Women are still highly underrepresented among its ranks, while the majority of jobs are being filled primarily by men. The future of cybersecurity is influenced by its ability to attract, retain and promote more cyber professionals including more women. We need an interdisciplinary approach to reach high level of cybersecurity.

To celebrate the International Women's Day 2022, this CONNECT University session will bring together leading women in cybersecurity to address some of the most contemporary pressing issues, share their successful stories, and inspire other women who want to pursue a professional career in this field. In the same time, the event will discuss concrete actions to attract more women in this domain, highlighting the crucial role that they play in cybersecurity.

Picture with a lock screen with a women sitting on it with date and hours of the event
  • Moderator: Lorena Boix Alonso, Director for Digital Society, Trust and Cybersecurity in Directorate General for Communications Networks Content and Technology (DG CONNECT), European Commission

Lorena Boix Alonso is Director for Digital Society, Trust and Cybersecurity in Directorate General for Communications Networks Content and Technology (DG CONNECT), at the European Commission. Formerly, she was Acting Director for Policy Strategy and Outreach and Head of Unit for Policy Implementation and Planning, also in DG CONNECT.

Previously, she was Deputy Head of Cabinet of Vice President Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for the Digital Agenda and also during Ms Kroes' mandate as Commissioner for Competition. 

She joined the European Commission Directorate-General for Competition in 2003. Prior to that, she has worked for Judge Rafael García Valdecasas, at the European Court of Justice, as well as Deputy Director and Legal Coordinator of the IPR-Helpdesk Project and in private practice in Brussels. 

She holds a Master of Laws from the Harvard Law School and a Licence Spéciale en Droit Européen from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. She graduated in Law from the University of Valencia.

  • Despina Spanou is the Head of the Cabinet of the Vice-President of the European Commission overseeing the European Union’s policies on security, migration and asylum, health, skills, education, culture and sports.

Despina Spanou is the Head of the Cabinet of the Vice-President of the European Commission overseeing the European Union’s policies on security, migration and asylum, health, skills, education, culture and sports.

Previously, she was Director for Digital Society, Trust and Cybersecurity at the Directorate-General for Communications Network, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) of the European Commission. In this capacity, Ms Spanou was responsible for the European Union’s cybersecurity policy and law, digital privacy, connected cities and mobility, digital health, eGovernment and electronic identification. As Director for Digital Society, Trust and Cybersecurity, she was also responsible for the implementation of the EU legislation on security of network and information systems (NIS Directive) and for the negotiations of the EU Cybersecurity Act. Ms Spanou has served as a member of the management board of ENISA, the EU agency for cybersecurity, and of the Steering Board of the Computer Emergency Response Team for the EU Institutions, bodies and agencies (CERT-EU). She is a founding member of the Women4Cyber initiative and advocate for the need for more cybersecurity experts in Europe.

Despina Spanou has also been Director for Consumer Affairs at the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (2013-2017) in charge of consumer policy, consumer and marketing law, redress and enforcement, and product safety. Prior to this position, she was Principal Adviser in the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers responsible for communication and strategies on managing chronic diseases including the EU's contribution to the UN General Assembly on Health.

She was the Deputy Head of Cabinet for the European Commissioner for Health and Consumers Mr Kyprianou (2004-2008) and for the Commissioner for Health Ms Vassiliou (2008-2010). Despina Spanou started her career at the European Commission at the Directorate General for Competition (in 2003). She had previously practiced European law with the Brussels branch of a US law firm.

Despina Spanou is a member of the Athens Bar Association and holds a Ph.D. in European law from the University of Cambridge. She is Greek/Cypriot.

  • Demosthenes Ikonomou,Head of Capacity Building Unit, ENISA

Demosthenes Ikonomou joined the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) in 2008 and currently holds the position Head of Information Capacity Building Unit. He received his Masters of Science in Electronics and Computer Sciences and his Ph.D. in applied sciences from the University of Southampton, United Kingdom, in 1992 and the Universit catholiquue de Louvain-la-Neuve (UCL), Belgium, in 2002 respectively. Between 1996-2008 he worked for DG Information Society & Media (INFSO) of the European Commission (now DG CONNECT) mainly involved in the management of R&D projects in the fields of wireless and personal communications as well as networked media.

  • Pascal Steichen, Chair of the European Cybersecurity Competence Center (ECCC)

Pascal is founder and CEO of SECURITYMADEIN.LU, the Cybersecurity Agency for the Luxembourg Economy and Municipalities. For 20 years, he has been involved in the main cybersecurity initiatives of the Luxembourg Government, with CYBERSECURITY Luxembourg, the national platform to foster and empower the Luxembourg cybersecurity ecosystem, being his latest achievement. Building on his huge experience in cybersecurity, today, among others, Pascal is member of the Luxembourg Cybersecurity Board, lecturer in information security at the University of Luxembourg, board member of CLUSIL (the main association representing the cybersecurity landscape of Luxembourg), member of WomenCyberForce, and involved in the curricular board of the BTS cybersecurity. Since very recently, he is the Chair of the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre.

  • Jelena Zelenovic Matone, Senior Unit Head, CISO at the European Investment Bank, Part-time President of Women Cyber Force, Women4Cyber Council Member

Jelena Zelenovic Matone is a respected and leading CISO at the EU Institution, and a President of the Women Cyber Force and Women4Cyber Chapter Luxembourg. She has been awarded the CISO of the year for 2019 in Luxembourg, Sentinel CISO Global 2020, EU CISO 2020, and recently Ambassador of the year 2021 in Luxembourg. Versatile and innovative Cybersecurity professional with emphasis on cyber security risk management, policies and procedures creation, IT/IS security, IT Operations, audit, risk mitigation, business process improvement, IT governance. Passionate about participation and encouragement of women in cybersecurity and in STEM programs.

Prior to current role, served as the Senior Operational Risk and ISO manager for another EU Institution. Earlier in career, managed IT Audit and Compliance for Sobey’s, one of the two national grocery retailers in Canada and Audit, Corporate Development, M&A and growth strategies and IT Audit for George Weston, one of the Canada’s largest publicly traded food processing and distribution companies.

  • Anastasiia Konoplova, CEO of LLC UAG, providing risk&IT consulting and assurance services for commercial banks and enterprises

Anastasiia Konoplova, CISA, CRISС,CDPSE, CISA, CRISС,CDPSE Trainer, owner&CEO of LLC UAG (continuity since 1999), ISACA Kyiv Chapter President 2018-2020, master of economics (economic cybernetics), experience in assurance and consulting in risk, information technology management and information security management systems since 2005.

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