Addressing the Gender Gap in the Cybersecurity Field

Caleb Townsend
Staff Writer   United States Cybersecurity Magazine

We need to talk about the gender gap.

When it comes to industries that have issues with the gender gap, it’s not shocking the cybersecurity field is guilty. Males historically and currently dominate the cybersecurity field. Think about the stereotypical archetype of an ethical hacker or cyber warrior. The image conjured is usually a man in a hoodie wearing an Anonymous mask, hunched over his computer in the early hours of the morning. This pervasive image sets an incorrect assumption that the skill sets required for Cybersecurity jobs are gendered. Unfortunately, this assumption factors into women occupying only 11 percent of jobs in the Cybersecurity field.

There are multiple reports of discrimination within prominent Cybersecurity companies as the environment tends to be more male oriented. Because of this, women can feel isolated within the industry. From an early age, many girls experience a lack of support for them to even explore the IT industry. As a result, this has led to women seeking out industries where they are more represented. An online survey titled ‘Beyond 11%’ points out that most women have ruled out cybersecurity as a potential job by the age of 15.

Stereotypes reinforced at a young age that women “aren’t good at technology” seep into adulthood. One example of this is hiring biases which, consciously or unconsciously, compel business owners to hire men over women. The industry needs to work at changing recruiting techniques and creating environments where all feel welcome within the industry. This is especially important in an age where millions of jobs are open and multitudes of companies are severely under protected.

The Girl Scouts are taking this issue head on.

Sylvia Acevedo, chief executive of the Girl Scouts, agrees. Hence, she took part in creating a program that allows for Girl Scouts to earn a badge in cybersecurity. Acevedo hopes that introducing young girls to Cybersecurity issues will significantly play a huge role in reversing the gap. The program works to induct a sense of interest in cybersecurity at an early age. It also works to provide them with the appropriate skill sets to thrive within the industry.

The threats facing us within the cyber realm require unified action. There is a massive shortage of workers in the cybersecurity field. Therefore, integrating diversity and closing the gender gap is an integral part of letting the industry thrive.  Cybersecurity takes passionate, innovative workers, willing to think outside of the box and find new solutions to new threats.

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