What is your first thought when you read that women represent 20% of the cybersecurity workforce? You will probably think, “oh, it is not as bad as I would have imagined.” Cybersecurity is going through a dramatic talent gap that only keeps growing year after year. Combating gender inequality is part of the solution to this problem; it can help us get better and faster results by helping us get better-trained personnel.
There is a common misbelief that because this is a technical field, it is more attractive to men, but it is not true. It is very appealing to women as well. The reality is that women are as able as them to get the work done and have a successful career. In fact, women are finding their way to leadership positions in higher numbers. In fact, a report published by McKinsey & Company says that organizations that increased employment and leadership opportunities for women have shown increased organizational effectiveness and growth.
So, what can we actually do to combat gender inequality in the field?
Four Things That Will Help Combat Gender Inequality in Cybersecurity
1- Promote Cybersecurity Ambassadors
As an industry, we need to start inspiring women to join us, help them understand that this is not a “men’s world.” They can excel at it. One way of doing it is by promoting successful women in cybersecurity to encourage others to like them, to enter the industry. We should be writing about their experience. What motivated them to join cybersecurity, about their journey and their goals, we should be inviting them as lecturers, ambassadors, or speakers at conferences (in-person and online). We should talk about the many benefits of being a woman in cybersecurity.
2- Encourage More Girls Into STEM
We need to find new and more attractive ways to reach every grade in every school and encourage kids, especially girls, into STEM. This way, not only are we initiating them into the world of science, technology, and math, but we are giving our students the necessary tools to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and exploratory learning skills that will help them be successful in every aspect of their life.
3- Provide Financial Support for Women
The cost of a cybersecurity training program can be a barrier for people who are considering entering this field. We can encourage women to get started by offering tailored funding options for them.
4- Create Cybersecurity Vocational Training Programs for Women
Training programs specially designed for women can help them understand how the cybersecurity field works, their different career paths, and support their professional development. These programs should include mentorship (ideally by women in the industry), career guidance, courses, certifications, and hands-on experience that will help them build a profile that will stand out in front of the eyes of recruiters.
In other words, we can summarize the efforts we need to start making in just three words: education, inspiration, and engagement. This way, not only are we helping the future generations, but we are giving a hand to adult women who want a better life and a more rewarding career.