Women in cybersecurity: The gender gap is closing
The number of women working in cybersecurity is growing steadily, despite the misconception that cybersecurity is an area where "men with glasses work XNUMX hours a day, isolated in small offices or windowless rooms."
However, much remains to be done before the gender gap is completely closed.
The struggle to eliminate the gender gap in business continues rightfully. Especially in the field of cybersecurity, which is still trying to fill millions of job vacancies, there have been positive developments recently. For example, in 2013, in the cybersecurity sector, women occupied only 11% of jobs. Last year's edition of the Women in Cybersecurity report, prepared by the Security Certification Agency (ISC) 2, showed that women already represent almost a quarter of the workforce in the security sector.
On the other hand, the study highlighted another issue - the gender pay gap. "When asked about their annual earnings over the past year, 17% of women said they were $ 50.000 to $ 99,999, 12 percentage points lower than men (29%)," the report said.
Much remains to be done to close the gap, a fact that needs more attention as today is International Women's Day. According to experts from the international cybersecurity company ESET, these are some of the steps that could motivate more women to join the industry.
Although the cybersecurity sector is widely regarded as progressive, the fact remains that it is largely a male-dominated profession. According to its latest report (ISC) 2, just over 50% of professionals surveyed believe that the percentage of women in the sector has increased in the last five years. However, among women, 7% believe that the number of women in the sector has actually decreased over the same period, compared to only 4% of men.
In general, many are probably due to misconceptions that are part of the overall problem of the industry image and the general misconception that cybersecurity is an area where men with glasses work around the clock isolated in small offices or windowless rooms, a deep an established stereotype that is perpetuated as it is fed back by popular TV series.
Closing the gap
Some organizations have started actions aimed at restoring balance. One of them is the ESET Cybersecurity Women Scholarship, which for the past five years has been offering $ 5.000 scholarships to women studying at university and pursuing a career in cybersecurity. Last year, ESET offered a total of $ 20.000 to four students studying information security.
Maria Bolaños, one of the students who won a scholarship last year, is studying at the University of Houston and is preparing to become an information security specialist. During the summer she worked as a volunteer teaching code to children from disadvantaged communities. "The ESET scholarship brings me closer to the future I dream of for myself. "No one expected that I, a Latina from a low-income family, could pursue a professional career, especially in a field like cybersecurity, and do what I can to prove to myself that I belong here," Bolaños said. .
Other organizations aiming at gender equality and improving female staffing rates include the National Center for Women in Information Technology and the Girls Who Code, based in USA. Meanwhile, the international initiative Women in Cybersecurity aims to promote women in the sector, strengthening and promoting their passion for cybersecurity.
While there is a perception that those who want to pursue a career in cybersecurity must have a technological background, this is not necessarily the case. For example, cybersecurity researcher Lysa Myers began her career as a florist, later moving to a receptionist position at a cybersecurity company, before gaining experience as a worker in her own virus lab.
Of course, this does not mean that university education does not play a role, however, there is disagreement about whether it is absolutely necessary to have a degree to pursue a career in cybersecurity. For those who want to change careers and join the cybersecurity professionals, it is good to weigh the pros and cons to get a degree or follow the path of self-taught.
Hope for the future
While the number of women holding positions in cybersecurity is increasing, the road to bridging the gender gap remains long and full of obstacles. A good start would be to eliminate the negative perception that cybersecurity is not a viable career for women and to highlight the reasons why women should consider a career in this field.
In addition to the attractive salaries and job satisfaction, it is equally important to emphasize that cyber security is diverse and career paths are not linear, which means that they will have the opportunity to mature and wear a lot of hats during the during their careers .