It has been a cyber buzz of 2019. Gender equality in the cyber space has saturated the media and when combined with the predicted 3.5 million cyber security job openings by 2021, it is evident why the issue has monopolised headlines.
The need for gender equality and diversity spans industries yet the cyber space continues to lag whilst others flourish, or rather – diversify. Gender bias and disparity continue to leave females in cyber battling to obtain benefits, acknowledgement, opportunities and compensation equal to their male counterparts.
Women currently form 20 percent of the cyber security workforce and whilst that has increased from the 11 percent in 2017, a long journey remains to gender parity. With 51 percent of women experiencing discrimination of some form, from gender-related pay gaps to being overlooked for promotions, it is clear the cyber security industry has a discrimination issue.
This issue stems for the perception that cyber is a male domain, stereotypes planted at childhood assign the tech industry as a career path for men. Yet the fact remains that cyber security encompasses an incredibly diverse array of jobs – the field is not all black hoodies, Mountain Dew and coding. The cyber roles of ten years are ones that are yet to exist. With this fast-paced change, a level of job security is created, unlike many traditional careers which may become obsolete in the future, the demand for cyber professionals creates job security with growth guaranteed.
The need for females goes beyond bumping up percentages. Women bring diversity to the workforce in the form of ideas and perspectives and with increasingly savvy cybercriminals emerging, employing diverse viewpoints better equips companies to combat this crime. Across industries men and women have proven to work fantastically together and there is no reason the cyber security industry is different.
Google and Facebook are leading diverse recruitment initiatives and are hiring these diverse teams to minimise their cyber blind spots. Greater viewpoints and perspectives have greater potential to identify and neutralize threats. “The wider variety of people and experience we have defending our networks, the better our chances of success” says Priscilla Moiruchi, Director of Strategic Threat Development at Record Future. Schools are jumping on board too, implementing courses and programs for females with the aim of developing their talent whilst also eliminating the male career pathway perceptions.
Looking to how females are recruited and retained is slowly becoming a top priority for companies. Deloitte’s EMEA Women in Cyber initiative, for example, involves “career development programs, mentorship, support networks and flexible work arrangements” to address the tight cyber security talent pool and females differing employment priorities. When hiring companies are looking to transferable skills and soft skills, acknowledging on the job training as an unavoidable biproduct of the skills shortage.
Perceptions are shifting and the drive to diversify the industry is happening but is the move fast enough to catchup with the momentum of the cyber crime? The next two to three years will be telling.
Is gender diversity realistically achievable in the next five years, or have you own experience with gender inequality in cyber? CareersinCyber.com would love to hear from you here.