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FCW : January 2015
Tech faces a serious gender gap, from Silicon Valley to the Beltway offices of federal agencies. The num- bers alone are important — and we look at some of the stats on the final page of this magazine — but they barely begin to tell the story. So we decided to take a different approach with the feature that starts on page 14. What does the fed- eral IT space look like for young women seeking to contribute? Are there networks and willing mentors to help chart a career (or, increasingly, to make the most of a short-term stint in govern- ment)? How much outright sexism remains in the community? What about the subtler, yet still significant, boys’ club dynamic that can make talented women feel like outsiders? And what do the women leaders in agencies and industry — and there is an impressive cadre of them — think about their roles and the way things have evolved? Those are the sorts of questions we wanted to explore. And to do so, we gathered a great group of women leaders for a wide- ranging and candid conver- sation about what it’s really like to work in federal IT. A quick note about that group: The nine women on the cover are not a definitive group — the confer- ence room wasn’t big enough to invite every impressive woman in the community, and the realities of December schedules kept several others we did invite from attending. But the women on our cover are an important and instructive cross-sec- tion of federal IT, and they are able to speak to both the environment today and the changes over time. And speak to it they did. It was a fantastic discussion that went well beyond the two hours we’d sched- uled and could have run late into the night. Colby Hochmuth captures the highlights in the pages that follow, but there was so much more than we could possibly include here. This is a conversation that we intend to continue, and there are other important ones to be had as well. If you’d like to be part of them, please let me know. — Troy K. Schneider firstname.lastname@example.org @troyschneider EDITOR’S NOTE Trending current and former USPS employees might have been affected by a September data breach 485,000 8 January 2015 FCW.COM Why we focused on women in IT Applicants heeding the FBI’s recent call for cybersecurity experts had better get to the gym soon because the agency isn’t changing its physical requirements for the positions. Candidates for the cybersecurity jobs must pass a physical fitness test (PFT) to earn — and keep — their posts, even though most of their time is likely to be spent at a desk or in a data center. On Dec. 29, the FBI issued a dragnet of sorts for potential recruits with cyber- security expertise. The agency said it needed a slew of digitally talented 23- to 37-year-olds to help it keep up with investigations into cybercrimes such as website hacks, intrusions, data theft, botnets and denial-of-service attacks. The bureau’s campaign to bring aboard more technical talent — includ- ing computer scientists, IT specialists and engineers — is open until Jan. 20. According to the FBI, the slots will pay $59,340 to $76,568 per year. “Cyber agents will be integrated into all the different violations that we work,” said Robert Anderson Jr., executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, in a statement that accompanied the job announcement. “So whether it’s a counterterrorism or counterintelligence investigation, they could be the lead agent in the case.” The FBI said potential recruits will have to pass the bureau’s standard PFT, and the newly minted agents will have to keep up a level of physical fitness “necessary to effectively respond to life-threatening situations on the job.” The agency’s PFTs measure physi- cal acumen with a series of potentially daunting trials, including completion of a maximum number of sit-ups in one minute, a timed 300-meter sprint, an untimed maximum number of push- ups and a timed one-and-a -half-mile run. According to the FBI’s website, appli- cants must get a minimum cumulative score of 12 points on the four tests, with at least one point in each of the events. They also have to pass a rigorous back- ground check. Under the FBI’s PFT scoring system, for example, to earn six points, men must complete the one-and-a -half-mile run in 9:55 to 10:14. Women must com- plete it in 11:15 to 11:34. Anderson said the agency is looking for “highly talented, technically trained individuals who are motivated by the FBI’s mission.” — Mark Rockwell FBI wants cyber sleuths with some muscle 0115fcw_003-009.indd 8 1/7/15 1:31 PM
November and December 2014