Women in Cyber Security

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5 months ago by Jessica Brown

Women in Cyber Security

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By 2020, the Cyber Security sector is projected to add 2 million jobs to its workforce world-wide. However, with a serious skills gap in the sector, making Cyber Security more appealing to more than ½ of the population is essential. 

Cyber Security Ventures’ 2018 report predicts that women make up 20% of the global Cyber workforce, however the numbers have often been disputed. With the Executive Womens Forum writing that ‘while tech is notoriously male-dominated’ Cyber Security gender representation is particularly low, gathering conclusive data on the sector as a whole can be tricky. 

What we do know is that only 13% of Fortune 500 companies have women in top Cyber Security positions and of those that do make it in the sector, over half report having experienced gender discrimination. Drawing conclusions as to why, experts on the subject have reported that the issue is a vicious circle, with a lack of representation, leading to less applicants, leading to a lack of representation. 

Lindsay Brechler, Product Manager at Firemon, writes about the issue that “women are often plagued by imposter syndrome when they don’t have near-equal representation in a space… but it is especially risky for women in the security industry,” leading women to be less likely to publicise their hard work and thus thrive. 

Electronic Frontier Foundations, Director of Cyber Security, Galperin, suggests that this drought of female employees could even be leading to a toxic working environment, writing that “we’re never going to solve the problem of harassment in the security community, as long as women make up 10% of the workforce.” 2 of the largest Cyber Security conferences, DefCon and Black Hat are held in Las Vegas, a city of excess, partying and a culture of objectification. And despite Galperin writing that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ does not apply to harassing women in tech”, reports of harassment abound every year. From inappropriate comments to physical touching, in an industry where networking is crucial, these events need to clean up their act or risk damaging women’s careers, as they avoid them for their comfort and safety. 

Research into other industries has proven that the more diverse a team, the more productive and for a sector that is becoming more and more important (in 2016, over 2 billion people had their personal details stolen) productivity is everything. ... Maybe it’s about time that we join the ranks of Fortune 500’s, Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Prudential Financial, in validating female employees and encouraging others to join. “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” – National Initiative for Cyber Security Careers & Studies