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According to the most recent information from the Central Intelligence Agency, women make up slightly over half the population in the U.S. Yet few of these women pursue careers in the field of information security. For women interested in entering this technology-driven world, there are a few important facts to understand.
1. The gap is closing
Though information security was previously a “men’s club,” it is slowly becoming more gender-neutral. Tech Republic reported that women still make up only 11 percent of the information security workforce, but the numbers are gradually climbing.
2. Women have the right stuff
Call it women’s intuition or a sixth sense. Whatever you call it, it is exactly what the field of information security needs. Not only can women match their gender counterparts in mastering technical skills, but some studies have shown that they may be better at the interpersonal and communication abilities that account for the rest of the job. In fact, a 2013 (ISC)² report showed that women understood areas such as communication skills, broad understanding of the security field and awareness and knowledge of the latest security threats better than men. In the blog post “Why women are the future of cybersecurity” the National Cybersecurity Institute wrote, “[women] may be able to anticipate areas of vulnerability quicker and create more creative solutions than men in the same role.”
3. Many rising cybersecurity stars are women
There is a common misconception that only men hold positions of leadership in the information security field. Women like Sibley Bacon, a senior data privacy and security engineering manager at Google, and Michele Myauo, the director of cybersecurity for Microsoft’s U.S. division, are proving that women can successfully rise in the ranks of the technology world. These women are a small part of a larger force of successful female information security professionals.
4. Women add necessary diversity
For information security teams to adequately anticipate cyberthreats, they need to consist of individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. An all-male team is far less effective than a team with an even gender ratio and individuals from each race. A diverse team will be able to confront threats and address vulnerabilities from different approaches.
5. Mentors are reaching out
Two things that have kept women from pursuing information security careers is the lack of guidance from upper management and few mentors. When experiencing job stress, it can be difficult to reach out to someone of a different gender because he or she may not understand your predicament. In another article entitled “Mentors: What are they good for?” NCI wrote, “The mentor can guide you along a path by sharing lessons learned and experiences to help you achieve greater success by avoiding the obstacles that women face.” Fortunately, more women in information security leadership roles have been reaching out to newcomers and offering career counseling.