The battle to level the gender disparity in many industries is steadily heating up, and it desperately needs to. A diverse workforce brings with it a slew of benefits, including a better workplace culture, which has a direct affect on the productivity and profitability of organisations in every industry.
However, research by Cybersecurity Ventures reveals that women make up only around 20 percent of the cyber security workforce, meaning we have a serious problem. Women need to be respected, valued and employed in the ongoing fight against cyber adversaries.
At the same time, the dearth in cyber security skills is well documented, with hundreds of thousands of positions needing to be filled around the world, begging the question of why women are so under represented in this sphere.
And although cyber security is widely viewed as being a progressive and forward-thinking arena, it remains to a large extent, a male-dominated profession. The low representation of women in cyber security can be linked to the wider issue of their low representation in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
We need to change the perception that cyber security is a job for men, because there is nothing ingrained in our sex that gives men a greater inclination for, or effectiveness in, the field.
At the same time women are often not made aware of the wide range of opportunities within the broader ICT field, and too many businesses fail to try to recruit women to work in these disciplines.
If you think about it, cyber security needs skills beyond the technical. Strategy and insight is important too, and women tend to offer perspectives and opinions that differ from men’s, and ones that could be crucial in addressing the risks businesses face today.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. There is no shortage of associations, groups and similar, for women who are involved in cyber security. I've included a list (just the tip of the iceberg) for any of us who would like to connect and interact with, likeminded peers in the infosec arena.
Women4Cyber is a non-profit foundation in the EU that aims to promote, encourage and support the participation of women in the field of cyber security.
CybHER in the US, offers resources for women and girls, from middle school all the way to college and into professional careers, with the aim of empowering, motivating, educating, and changing the perception of girls and women in cyber security sphere.
The Diana Initiative is a non-profit organisation that promotes diversity and supports women who would like to pursue a career in cyber security.
Engaging – Women in Cyber Defense, is an organisation founded by Calian, in conjunction with the Veteran Friendly Transition Program to get a better grasp on the barriers facing women in cyber defence and help grow the number of women enrolling in Canada’s cyber defence programs.
The European Cyber Security Organisation formed Women4Cyber, an initiative aimed at growing women’s participation in this field to address the growing demand for cyber security professionals in Europe.
The Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) on Information Security, Risk Management & Privacy has connected more than 10 000 women in nearly two decades. The forum offers education, mentorship and leadership development programs for women at all stages of their careers, and partners with more than 700 global corporate benefactors to achieve this.
Girls4Tech is an educational program created by Mastercard to inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers through a fun, engaging curriculum that includes topics such as encryption, biometrics, fraud detection, and detective work — all of them skills needed for cybersecurity.
Girls Go CyberStart Initiative, is an interactive series of digital challenges aimed at introducing young women to the cyber security field.
Inteligenca is a non-profit organisation that encourages and helps women who want to make career changes in cyber security. It introduced 100 Women in 100 Days— an initiative that is focused on increasing the number of women in cyber security.
These are but a few of the many associations and initiatives out there. Visit Cybersecurity Ventures for a full list.