When it comes to industries that have issues with the gender gap, it’s certainly not shocking the cybersecurity field is guilty. Cybersecurity is, and has always been a male dominated field. When the stereotypical archetype of an ethical hacker or cyber warrior pops into your head, 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, an assumption that factors into women occupying only 11 percent of jobs in the Cybersecurity field.
There have been multiple reports of discrimination within prominent Cybersecurity companies as the environment tends to be more male oriented. Often 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, leading 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 major example of this is the hiring biases which, whether conscious or unconscious, compel business owners to often hire men over women within the field. The industry needs to work at changing recruiting techniques and creating environments where all feel welcome within the industry, especially in an age where millions of jobs are open and multitudes of companies are severely under protected.
Sylvia Acevedo, chief executive of the Girl Scouts, agrees. 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 play a huge role in reversing the gap. The program works to induct a sense of interest in cybersecurity at an early age, while simultaneously providing them with the appropriate skill sets to thrive within the industry.
The threats facing us within the cyber realm require unified action. With the shortage of workers employed in the field, integrating diversity and closing the gender gap is an integral part of letting the industry thrive. Cybersecurity takes smart, passionate, innovative workers who are willing to think outside of the box and find new solutions to new threats.