‘If Wonder Woman was a Tech Nerd’: How Amber Schroader succeeded by fighting the good fight.

Women in Tech

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Amber Schroader is Founder and CEO of Virginia based Paraben Digital Forensics. Schroader first started Paraben as a shareware company in the late 1990s to offer simple solutions to the home users while she worked at a digital forensics firm. When her experience at the firm she was working for twelve and a half years ended. She decided to establish Paraben as a digital forensics’ technology firm in 1999, determined to offer solutions for the problems that she became aware of during her participation in the field. She took over as CEO and led Paraben Digital Forensics to be the first firm to tackle mobile forensics and the problems with e-mail archives in 2001 and has continued to offer quality services for over twenty years.

“We have always believed that validation is the cornerstone of digital forensics,” states Schroader. “Especially with the rapid changes in technology, the need is even greater to make sure the tool you are using is producing the results it should.” 

For over the past two decades Schroader has been a leading expert and longtime practitioner in her field who continues to create, innovate, improvise and grow digital forensics technology and fight injustice in her own exceptional intellectual way. Schroader has worked with all divisions of the forensics investigation whether state, federal, corporate, local or private parties. Ever since she has come about several software programs carefully designed to extract digital data from mobile phones, handheld devices such as PDAs, computers, hard drives, live video monitoring services and e-mails.

“Women, in general, make great investigators because of their natural attention to detail and I try to show them it is a space that even the shy can excel.”

“I have lived in worlds beyond counting and countries as strange and wonderful as the dance of dust in sunbeams, because I have lived in books.” ― Garon Whited

Schroader has been an ingenious and well-known curriculum developer and instructor. She has made a remarkable contribution to a number of books in the sector of digital forensics such as Auditors and Investigators, Wireless Crime and Forensic Investigation, Techno Security Guide to Managing Risks for IT Managers, Techno Security’s Guide to E-Discovery and Digital Forensics: A Comprehensive Handbook along with Alternate Data Storage. Schroader also conceived the concept of the “360-degree approach to digital forensics” as well as started the movement towards “Forensics of Everything-FoE” based on unique problems in digital forensics evidence and solutions in the area of IoT devices. She has majorly influenced and pushed the industry to consider the big picture in the world of digital evidence, it’s acquisition process and techniques used in data analysis through her industry speaking engagements worldwide.

“I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.” ― Maya Angelou

All through her journey Schroader was underestimated as a leader in her previous technical firm for being a woman. She was asked to take notes in the meetings and observe her male colleagues being asked all the questions. Furthering the sexist notion she often heard remarks like “pretty faces are not technically capable”. Being one of the only females in the active space, she faced every level of gender-bias but she never stopped pushing back. Since as a young girl, who has been a nerd for comics and sci-fi, a lot of her inspiration came from the character of Wonder Woman. Her compassion, swiftness, strength and never-ending drive for justice are the key traits that encouraged Schroader to be the nerdy-wonder woman she is today.

Amber Schroader, Founder & CEO, Paraben

“If loss makes you doubt your belief in justice, then you never truly believed in justice at all.” —Wonder Woman, Vol. 3: The Circle

Even when her firm let her go, Schroader fearlessly took the harder path. She decided to found her own company in a field often touted as male-centric when she could have retired to teaching. Her choice to count on her own potential, her undefeated courage and strive for justice is what made all the difference. It may be exhaustive for us to count her accomplishments but for measuring her successes, she simply looks at her kids, her staff members and the customers she can help. Also, she still stands to be the only female CEO in digital forensics space, the role that she believes comes with a lot of responsibilities. Therefore supporting new talent and letting them have enough opportunities to learn and grow are quintessential for Schroader. “I never had a female mentor as there were not any in my space. Many times, I was one of less than ten females at events and the only one that was a company owner. Knowing that it has inspired me to reach out to young women about the space and encourage them in. I co-sponsored with Robert Morris University the first of an annual Women in the Cyber event this year and it was wonderful to see women and men coming together to support more women in the space,” says Schroader. “I speak at high schools and summer camps in an effort to show young ladies that being a nerd in digital forensics is cool and something that they can excel at. Women, in general, make great investigators because of their natural attention to detail and I try to show them it is a space that even the shy can excel.” 

She urges more and more women to get into tech fields as it is vastly dominated by men and will be benefited by women participation. She encourages women to set aside their fears and insecurities and really focus on helping each other to move forward together. Another important factor she stresses that determines one’s success is ‘how hard you work’. “Work hard. It is a simple statement, but many times as leaders you step back from just doing the hard work in a company. I feel it is important to never lose sight of that. If there is a task that needs to be done step in and help if needed,” shares Schroader as a lesson she learned throughout her career. “My grandparents immigrated to the US and literally worked their way across the country. I grew up sitting in their bakery watching them work hard every day. I remember that when I work that getting it done is the best thing you can do. I am not a huge fan about talking about it being done, I like to actually get it done.” 

Schroader is indeed a great example of kindness in her space. Who has not only helped a lot of people to get started in their careers but has also done her best to help them grow along the way. While her company is the perfect example of the American dream where she has worked hard from an idea and built it into an industry recognized organization along with her team that treats its customers with integrity. She aims to always keep innovating. “I intend to see Paraben evolve and grow so that we can continue to do great things with what we have made, and I would like to continue on my fight for justice,” Schroader asseverates.

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