This month, Women’s History Month, I’m reminded to pause, reflect on, and acknowledge the progress women have made and honor those who have paved the way. It’s a call to action: to empower new generations of women and give them the courage, confidence, and willpower to continue making progress with purpose.

To do this, I encourage all of us to ask a simple question: “Why do we do what we do?” Before we can make progress, we need to define our purpose.

I’m particularly proud of how I’ve advanced with purpose in my own career, and in sharing my story, I hope to help those around me to feel heard, seen and inspired to keep pushing forward.

Growing up with parents who were engineers, I was surrounded by science and technology. Having that exposure to STEM early on in my life, I grew passionate about it too. After earning my engineering degree and entering the workforce, I found myself in a largely male-dominated industry, which presented both challenges and opportunities.

Because of this, I knew I had to be intentional about building relationships with the women in my field. One of my first role models was Kristin Rinne, former Chief Technology Officer at Cingular, now AT&T. Not only was Kristin extremely knowledgeable but she was also a graceful and inclusive leader – traits that I strive to embody every day. For more than 25 years, women like Kristin have empowered me in my career. And I now serve as Vice President of Network Security in the Chief Security Office at AT&T, leading security strategy and development and ensuring cybersecurity is embedded in everything we do.

I’ve learned that to succeed in tech, and really any industry, women need to surround themselves with a strong network of peers, mentors and sponsors who can support them, and who they can support in return. That’s why my colleagues and I launched an employee network called Cybersecurity@Work at AT&T. It provides mentoring, education and networking opportunities to foster growth and create a cyber-aware culture at AT&T.

Early exposure to science and technology is also important to success, which is why I’m passionate about collaborating closely with student STEM programs and industry initiatives, including Girl Scouts cybersecurity programs where I’m able to bring cyber to 6th-8th grade students. My team and I also travel to universities and colleges to give “tech talks” to the next generation of passionate engineers. 

By providing these types of opportunities for relationship-building and education, we’re making space for more women to enter the tech industry. And we’re not alone in our efforts. Across AT&T, our teams have worked tirelessly to address the gender gap in tech by prioritizing diversity in our hiring practices and giving women opportunities to raise their voices.

A lot has changed since I joined AT&T more than twenty years ago, but there is still work to be done. As we celebrate this Women’s History Month, it is imperative that we continue to encourage, educate, and empower women to make an impact in tech and beyond.

This is what Progress with Purpose looks like to me.

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Rita Marty
Rita Marty Vice President of Network Security, Chief Security Office

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