The cybersecurity talent gap is no longer just a staffing problem. It has gotten so bad that it is now a matter of national security. To this day, there are over 520,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs just in the US. No wonder we read in the news every day about numerous attacks on government offices, large corporations, small companies, town supplies, schools, and, more recently, to COVID vaccine developers.
In the past, we wrote about several ways we, as cybersecurity consulting firms and academies, can help ease this situation. This time, we want to analyze women working in cybersecurity and how they can be part of the solution to the talent gap.
The Lack of Women in Cybersecurity
Over the past few years, we’ve seen how women gain cybersecurity territory. In recent workforce studies, we can see that in 2013 women represented 11% of the worldwide cybersecurity workforce; by 2021, that number grew to 25%. A 14% increase in 8 years is not negligible, but it is not enough; we need to achieve gender equality, especially when discussing a field that has gone through an enormous talent gap for several years and a zero unemployment rate since 2011.
So, why is this happening? Why hasn’t cybersecurity been able to achieve some level of gender equality?
There are different reasons. One of them is that there is still a preconception that technical professions are the best options for boys, not girls, among young girls and even their families. This can be due to the lack of knowledge of what it means to work in cybersecurity or what movies have “taught” us about it. Usually, it’s a man hiding behind a hoodie trying to hack large corporations while the IT guy is alone in a computer room fighting the battle.
Whatever the reason behind this belief, we must do something about it. Women and men who work in cybersecurity perform the same tasks. They handle security threat detection/remediation, data security, network security architecture, security consulting, and others.
At the same time, we can see how women in cybersecurity face big compensation differences from men. According to ISC2, the salary difference can be from 16% to 20% for the same role, and to make things worse, women tend to emphasize their education and certifications. They work harder in their career advancement. Over the past few years, we have seen that all this effort is starting to pay off: women now fill more leadership roles than men.
How to Boost Women’s Involvement in Cybersecurity
This job cannot be done by just one organization; it requires the joint work of the government, nonprofit organizations, cybersecurity professionals, and even schools. But don’t let this discourage you from doing your part:
- Help young women develop their desire and aptitude to learn IT: we need programs that help identify girls with a natural interest in IT and develop the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful professionals.
- Encourage girls to participate in hackathons, capture the flag competitions, and others: when participating in different contests, they will realize they have the same opportunities as boys in technology, learning hacking skills, programming languages, and more.
- Women in cybersecurity should serve as mentors to future generations: talking from their experience will encourage other women to pursue a career in the field. Make it a relatable story, talk about the challenges you have faced, overcome them, talk about salary differences, and become part of the leadership team. Be a source of inspiration.
- Create mentoring programs: not only do school girls need help developing their cybersecurity skills, but anyone who wants to get started in this field needs guidance, support, and relevant knowledge.
- Fight for gender equality in the field: as we mentioned before, there is still much work to close the gender bias in cybersecurity. Women deserve equal salaries, the same benefits as men, and the same growth opportunities.
Attracting more women to cybersecurity is not an easy job. A lot needs to be done, from creating educational programs, encouraging women to get started in the field, and writing job posting offers to make women feel welcome to apply. This effort will benefit women and the world of cybersecurity, large corporations, small companies, and every citizen of the world.
Challenges and Opportunities: Role Models For Women in Cybersecurity
CyberWarrior is hosting an event called: “Opportunities and Challenges: Role Models for Women in Cybersecurity.” It is an important initiative to bring more diversity and inclusion to the cybersecurity industry. It’s essential to encourage more women to join the field and provide them with the necessary support and resources.
This virtual roundtable discussion on March 30th at noon EST is an excellent opportunity for women to hear from top female professionals about their experiences and insights in the industry. Attendees will learn about the challenges and opportunities for women in cybersecurity and gain valuable advice.
By supporting this event, we can help build a more diverse and inclusive cybersecurity industry, leading to better solutions and a more secure digital world. So don’t miss this chance to learn from other cybersecurity enthusiasts and support women in technology. Register now.