Men have dominated the workforce for centuries, and the cybersecurity field is no exception. According to the National Cybersecurity Institute, women make up 59% of the workforce, yet in 2004, male employees accounted for 75.1 percent of the Information Technology sector. The perception that science, engineering and technology are fields more suited for men has kept women from pursuing careers in these areas. Yet, diversity is crucial to success.
The perception that science, engineering and technology are fields more suited for men has kept women from pursuing careers in these areas. Yet, diversity is crucial to success.
Different is good
This is especially true in an ever-evolving area like cybersecurity. Hackers and the digital threats they develop are constantly evolving their methodology and attacking from new angles. So, why is the cybersecurity industry remaining stagnant? Instead of focusing solely on increasing the number of trained information security professionals, there should be an effort made to diversify. A team of five cybersecurity professionals with different backgrounds and varying perspectives can more effectively tackle a problem than ten cybersecurity professionals with similar views and experiences. Diversity is the key to winning the cybersecurity war.
“Women currently comprise only 11% of the cybersecurity workforce.”
Woman are the answer
Experts believe that the need for cybersecurity professionals will increase by almost 2 million by 2017. While women currently comprise only 11 percent of the cybersecurity workforce, they have the potential to fill these open positions. Not only that, but women can provide unique perspectives and intuition that their male counterparts cannot. Psychology Today reported that women tend to have better instincts than men, a skill that would be advantageous when facing unpredictable cyberthreats. Additionally, Michelle Dennedy, a cybersecurity professional in Silicon Valley, stated in The Christian Science Monitor that a big part of cybersecurity is reliant on the ability to interpret human emotion and behavior. Dennedy believed that women are better-suited for this aspect of the job than their male counterparts. They may be able to anticipate areas of vulnerability quicker and create more creative solutions than men in the same role. By recognizing the untapped potential of females in the cybersecurity sector, digital security could greatly improve.
What’s deterring women?
The Christian Science Monitor suggested that one reason women avoid the cybersecurity field is because of the masculine terminology. Phrases like “combat cyberthreats” and “fortify digital defenses” carry an aggressive connotation, which may drive women away. Another disincentive is that women might lack role models in the information security fields. Generally, men make up the majority of upper management. This means fewer females in high-ranking positions that women can look up to. Ultimately, the combination of these factors might lead women to leave the cybersecurity field in pursuit of a more welcoming environment or avoid the field altogether.
The National Cybersecurity Institute not only offers training and certifications in the field of cybersecurity, it has also developed a program called the Initiative for Women in Cybersecurity. This program was designed to encourage women to pursue careers in information security professions and eliminate women’s negative perceptions about the IT field. IWICS highlights successful women in cybersecurity and outlines best practices for the inclusion of women in the field, all with the intent of making cybersecurity a more woman-friendly area. For more information on the IWICS and other cybersecurity programs, visit NCI’s website today.