Women in Cybersecurity
”Combining diverse skills, perspectives and situations is necessary to meet effectively the multi-faceted, dynamic challenges of security.”
As the cyber security field explodes from technological advances and increased digital connectivity, the professional skills gap widens between job need and qualified applicants (estimated 300,000+ open cyber jobs in the U.S. alone). To ensure we can meet the security demand aligned with the expansiveness of our interconnected culture, the industry needs diversity: Diversity of thought and perspective across race, gender, culture and experience. The more unique thinking, problem-solving and community representation we have on cyber security teams, the more angles we will have to better tackle the malicious hacker mindset in efforts to get ahead of threats.
“I feel that women MUST MUST MUST help other women. No matter what your level of skill or where you are in your career, there is a young woman or woman who is now where you once were.”
VP of Global Partnerships & Security
We sat down with Laura Lee, Cyber Security Professor at University of Colorado and 2019 Cybersecurity Woman of the Year – North America, to understand how the industry evolved with women and what individuals can do to encourage more representation in the field.
How did the gender gap evolve in the cyber security industry?
- Since 2015, there’s been a 50% growth of women in cyber roles .
- As threats increase, the demand for talent grows yet more than 300,000 jobs are available in the U.S.
- Women leave the IT field more often than men do, by 45%.
- The word “cybersecurity” has roots in military lingo, which is another traditionally male dominated sector.
Some parents aren’t aware of the cyber field and what is involved, so it is hard for them to encourage kids to explore it as a career option.
In WW II, women were highly sought-after for cryptanalyst positions! What we can learn from historical hiring practices?
- More than 7,000 women served as codebreakers during World War II.
- Recruiters found that teachers (who were mostly women) possessed unique skill sets in literacy, numeracy and attention to detail.
- Intuition, collaboration and communication were critical skills in codebreaking–and women had those traits.
- The efforts of female code breaker teams shortened the war, saved lives, and gave woman access to careers previously not considered.
Female codebreakers demonstrated that cybersecurity wasn’t just a technical, logic driven field (skills often attributed to men).
How can you help encourage more women to enter cybersecurity?
Human beings transfer their unconscious bias to AI and without diverse teams of AI experts and developers, the resulting code can be unintentionally racist or sexist or hold other cultural biases as well. Fortunately, organizations are realizing this and beginning to hire more multi-cultural teams.”
~ Keenan Skelly, VP of Global Partnerships & Security Evangelist