International Women’s Day – Cyber Science 2020 Female Keynotes

cyber security

It’s International Women’s Day! According to a report carried out by the Centre for Cyber Safety and Education the issue of the cyber security workforce gap is set to increase continually, estimated to hit a deficit of 1.8 million by 2022, a 20% increase since 2015. In addition to this, the cyber security industry faces issues of gender gaps and a lack of female representation in the global cyber security workforce. However, thanks to the ongoing efforts of initiatives such as Deloitte’s EMEA Women in Cyber, the gender gap is slowly beginning to fill. (ISC)² released its 2019 Women in Cyber Security report revealing that figures of women working in cyber security had increased significantly from 11% in 2017 to 24% in 2019. The study also revealed that although men still outnumber women significantly, higher percentages of women are advancing to leadership roles.

While these findings are hopeful, there are still far less women in Cyber Security as well as the existence of major wage gaps between male and female cyber security professionals. However, despite this low ratio, it’s safe to say that there has been a clear rise in female cyber security professionals and leaders, giving cause for optimism for the coming years.

In light of International Women’s Day on Sunday, we want to write about our female keynote speakers we have lined up for Cyber Science 2020. These women truly showcase the rising success of women in cyber security today with each of them demonstrating exceptional influence and leadership within both academia and the industry.  



Dr Ruoyi Zhou - Director of IBM Research


Dr Zhou is one of the leading ladies in IBM with the responsibility of driving innovation and the growth of a world-class industrial research organisation in cutting edge sciences and technologies including AI, IoT, high performance computing mathematical modelling, quantum computing, and much more.

Dr Rouyi Zhou

Dr Zhou previously acted as the Director of IBM Accessibility Research, overseeing the development of advanced technology enabling accessibility of IBM products, solutions, and services and the creation of AI-powered assistive technology for people with disabilities in addition to the exploration of IoT-based AI solutions for Aging. Ruoyi also served on the Industry Advisory Council at the Colorado University College of Engineering and Applied Science and on the Board of Advisors for G3ict. She initiated and launched the Accessibility track at the Grace Hopper Conference and served as a committee member. Additionally, Ruoyi was the Co-Director of AI for Healthy Living, a joint research centre between IBM and the University of California, San Diego.

In addition to all of the above, Dr. Zhuo was also the Director responsible for the partnership between IBN Research and IBM Global Business Service where she lead a global team growing services revenue through driving technology strategy to solve business problems.

During her tenure as a senior research manager, Ruoyi also led a cross-disciplinary team in tackling one of the most difficult problems in IBM’s strategic outsourcing business: forecasting deal cost and pricing, using complex mathematical modelling and predictive analytics. In addition to the numerous roles Dr. Zhou has filled within IBM, prior to joining the company she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she studied and researched process and characterization of high-temperature superconductors.

Ruoyi holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science from Rutgers University. She has over 30 publications and is the recipient of several patents. She was a YWCA TWIN Award honouree, one of the most prestigious awards in the United States, recognizing successful women executives for their outstanding achievements. With over eighteen years of experience in the field,  it is clear that Dr. Zhuo has contributed significantly to the industry as a leader and driver of innovation.

Dr Phillippa M. Spencer - Senior Principal Statistician, DSTL


Phillippa is the winner of the 2019 Women of the Year as well as winner of Outstanding Contribution to Defence at the Women in Defence awards. This prestigious award was given to Dr Spencer at the annual awards ceremony in Guildhall, London whereby exceptional women across the UK defence industry are celebrated.


Phillippa has been cited for her work as a polymath, applying mathematical and statistical thinking across a number of areas such as cyber, artificial intelligence, data fusion, chemistry and biology and has worked at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) for 17 years.

Phillipa has truly but her talents to good causes with her analysis being used amongst healthcare workers in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak. More recentlyPhillippa was involved in the clean-up of Salisbury following the Novichok incident, where she applied statistical modelling to determine whether locations or vehicles were safe to use. Phillippa was also awarded a patent for her method of interrogating mixtures of nuclear acids by short tandem repeat analysis. This complements her existing patents at Dstl including for the pre-symptomatic diagnosis of sepsis. 

Dr. Spencer’s prolific career demonstrates the innovation being produced by women in tech today.

Valerie Lyons - COO, BH Consulting

Fascinated by all things cyber and data protection, Valerie Lyons is COO of BH Consulting, where she designs and delivers projects across a vast range of topics such as GDPR, Data Protection, ISO 27001, Cyber Strategy, Enterprise Security Risk and Incident Response. Her current role is founded on 15 years of as an accomplished Information Security Manager in the Financial Sector including acting as Head of Information Risk in KBC Bank.

Varie New

In addition to holding extensive knowledge and expertise in areas of compliance, corporate and ICT governance, data protection, information privacy, cyber auditing, cyber risk management and cyber strategy, Valerie also has exceptional skills and passion for team building and employee centricity. She holds a post grad in Executive Coaching, and applies several coaching tools to build resilient and high performing teams both in her own organisation and with her clients.

Valerie has an in-depth knowledge of GDPR and is frequently invited to speak at industry conferences, most recently keynoting at COSAC’s International Security Conference 2019. Valerie is a certified CISSP for almost 20 years, holding a Master of Science in Business Leadership from University College Cork and a BSc in Information Systems from Trinity College Dublin.

Valerie is currently pursuing a PhD in DCU, where she will also be speaking as keynote for Cyber Science this June. Having received a scholarship award from the Irish Research Council, she is researching the effectiveness of organizations’ privacy protection orientations.

We think it is safe to say that the keynote line-up for this year’s Cyber Science includes an impressive panel of exceptional female thought-leaders and innovators from the world of cyber security and tech. We are so excited to gain some insights from these highly accomplished professionals this June. Be sure to not miss out and register today.