Underrepresentation of Women in Cybersecurity Needs to be Addressed to Bridge the Sector’s Skills Gap
As the industry is expanding and the demand for skilled workers is booming, current trends show women choosing a career in cybersecurity still face substantial challenges. These are the findings of the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISWS), a biennial study conducted by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education (ISC).
Despite growing numbers of women graduating with computer science degrees, cybersecurity is still predominantly male-dominated. In security-related ICT jobs, women represent only 11% of the workforce. Men are four times more present in chief and executive-level positions and nine times more likely than women to become managers. At all levels, women’s careers are affected by lower pay.
Women in cybersecurity often face an unwelcoming environment: more than half of respondents surveyed in the GISWS reported being subject to some form of discrimination in the workplace, ranging from unconscious bias to overt hostility.
What can companies do to improve this situation? Some possible solutions include introducing leadership development, mentorship and sponsorship programs. Also important is reinforcing institutional accountability and improving managerial relationships. Women having access to training opportunities and support from their companies report significantly higher satisfaction rates at work than those who don’t have access to them.
It is not to be forgotten that the lack of women in cybersecurity represents a missed opportunity for the industry, which is currently undergoing a severe workforce shortage. If no action is taken, the demand for cybersecurity professionals will exceed the supply by an estimated 1.8 million by 2022. Companies are failing to profit from a vast pool of talent and diversity, and missing out on the opportunity to develop the potential of women in their workforce. Employers working to improve the conditions for women on the other hand would not only boost their resources, but the performance of the sector as a whole.
Additional findings of the GISWS study will be published throughout the year in a series of dedicated reports.