2018 was an extremely intense year in the field of cybersecurity. The Verizon Data Breach Report confirmed 2,216 breaches across 65 countries. From what the experts say, we can expect 2019 to be intense as well. According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, it’s predicted that by 2021 cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually. The report also predicts that by 2021 there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions. Why is there such a massive shortfall of cybersecurity professionals? In part, the answer lies in the gender gap that plagues the cybersecurity profession. Simply put, women are needed in cybersecurity.
Women Needed in Cybersecurity
In 2013, women made up only 11 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce. Jump forward 5 years to 2018 and a report form Cybersecurity Ventures states that women represent just 20 percent of the global workforce in cybersecurity. The gender gap is not closing quickly enough to meet the shortfall crisis of cybersecurity professionals. What can be done to encourage women to join the ranks of cybersecurity professionals? Two keys to open the cybersecurity door for women are education and environment.
The perception held by both men and women is that cybersecurity is a masculine career. Therefore, education is vital to change this perception. Education that starts early will have the most powerful impact. Parents and guardians, teach your children that both girls and boys can excel in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and science. If you are the parent or guardian of a girl encourage her to pursue STEM curriculum. Show her that there are programs and scholarships designed to engage and promote women in cybersecurity. Helpful ideas for parents and guardians, can be found in this newsletter, Teach Early, Teach Often: Cybersecurity Education for Children. A few programs and organizations that get young girls and women involved in cybersecurity are:
- AWSN – Australian Women in Security Networks
- WSC – The Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu
- Social-Engineer Capture The Flag (The SECTF)
- Masters Level Social Engineering
- Cyber First Girls
- Good girls write code
- Girls who code
- Raytheon’s Women Cyber Security Scholarship Program
- SWSIS Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security
Entering a male-dominated field can be intimidating for women. Government Technology reports on some of the issues facing women. They include: insensitivity in the workplace, the glass ceiling, and a pop culture where the images of tech workers are mostly male.
To attract and keep women in the cybersecurity field, these issues must be addressed. If you are an enterprise looking to fill cybersecurity positions, search for women to hire and promote; doing so will help shatter the glass ceiling. Additionally, broaden the imagery of cybersecurity professionals to include women. The standard picture doesn’t always have to be a guy in a hoodie, or a man in a mask, does it? Don’t simply ignore the issue of insensitivity in cybersecurity culture and the workplace. Take ownership of it and look to effect change by implementing workplace training that promotes respect. Doing so will put your enterprise in a leading position to meet the shortfall of unfilled cybersecurity positions. You will benefit by having a more diverse and innovative workforce. Commenting on the value of women in the cybersecurity field, The University of San Diego quoted this insightful comment from the NCIS, “Diversity encourages a culture where divergent opinions can be brought together to develop innovative solutions to solve some of the toughest problems our nation faces today.”
Women in cybersecurity!
Are you a woman contemplating a career in cybersecurity? If so, a go-to list of female cybersecurity professionals will motivate you. Their efforts to change the face of cybersecurity are inspirational. Here are three must have resources:
- 10 Women in Cybersecurity You May Not Know But Should.
- From SECTF to pro SE with Rachel and Whitney
- Cybersecurity Consultant
Women are needed in the cybersecurity field. The need to bridge the gender gap in cybersecurity is recognized by both corporations and government organizations. Leaders, if you are searching for great talent, don’t forget that women are an under-tapped resource!