Future of Women in Cybersecurity
Inclusiveness. Opportunities. Equity.
The topic of women in cybersecurity has received more media attention in recent years than ever before, so, naturally, we wanted to take a look at the current situation in the field.
Lately, the press has tended to emphasize the negative aspects of this subject, such as lack of representation, gender pay gap, and challenges faced in the workplace. In some companies, all of these things are unfortunately still true, however, in this article, I want to focus on another thing that is also true: the number of women who are thriving in this industry – and what steps can be taken to make cybersecurity organizations even more welcoming to women.
Nowadays, there are many successful women in cybersecurity who can serve as positive role models and maybe even mentors to other women and girls aspiring to enter and succeed in the field. These people should be held up as examples to young women as they know how to work through a challenge in order to achieve success. This way, younger generations will see and acknowledge that it can be done.
The Future Is Bright
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields in general, and cybersecurity in particular, have long suffered from a severe lack of female participants. Negative comments and attitudes about girls and women breaking into STEM fields have sadly persisted for a long time.
However, the significant rise in cybersecurity demands and the general dearth of qualified candidates are now making the lack of women in the field glaringly obvious. More women are now working in this industry, and many are being promoted to executive cybersecurity positions at a faster rate than ever before, so optimism is the state of this article.
Let’s See Some Statistics
According to a 2013 study conducted by growth strategy consulting and research firm Frost and Sullivan, women made up only 11% of the global cybersecurity workforce. While that research was rather narrow in terms of the job roles and types of cybersecurity it included, everybody concurred that female representation in cybersecurity was appallingly low.
Cybercrime Magazine’s research published on March 28, 2019, concluded that women represented roughly 20% of the worldwide information security salaries at that time.
Although the percentage of women working in cybersecurity positions in 2021 was almost twice as high as it was in 2013, it was still far too low, according to industry experts, who believe that the market needs to keep pushing for more women to join.
A recently published research by Cybercrime Magazine reveals that in 2022, women make up around 25% of the cybersecurity workforce.
According to Steve Morgan, founder of Cybersecurity Ventures, Editor-in-Chief at Cybercrime Magazine, and Executive Producer at Cybercrime Radio, females will account for 30% of the global cybersecurity workforce by 2025, reaching 35% by 2031. This extends beyond protecting corporate networks to cover IoT, IIoT, and ICS security, as well as cybersecurity for the automotive, military defense, aerospace, healthcare, and other industries.
With women holding 25% of cybersecurity jobs worldwide in 2022, up from 20% in 2019, and around 10% in 2013, we can say that the future looks pretty promising.
When asked if women will play a larger role in the cybersecurity landscape in the future and how Heimdal supports women in this environment, Morten Kjaersgaard, Heimdal® CEO said:
I absolutely think that women will play a much bigger role in cybersecurity, as it is a highly interesting and fast-paced market, which the modern women of today will fit well into. Cybersecurity and computers are for all genders, whether you are in development, sales, or support.
Looking at the Heimdal organization, I’ll be proud if we one day get to a 50/50 gender split because that means we will have made it equally interesting for both genders to join the fight against cybercrime.
Creating more Female Friendly Environments
What can cybersecurity companies/universities do to achieve this? Well:
First of all, companies everywhere need to understand the importance of cultural diversity in the workplace and create a policy that encourages the inclusion of individuals of all backgrounds and ethnicities in work teams, not just women.
Lynn Dohm, Executive Director at WiCyS. “WiCyS, a non-profit global community of diverse cybersecurity professionals says:
Diversity in the cybersecurity workforce is not a choice but an essential element!
Additionally, keeping talented employees on board should be a top priority for any organization, but given the shortage of cybersecurity professionals, this is now an even more pressing concern.
Promoting more inclusive work environments is essential for ensuring continuous employee satisfaction, particularly among women and minorities. All employees should receive training from their employers on what true inclusiveness entails, and it must be made clear that anything less will not be accepted.
The objective should not merely be to eliminate unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in the workplace but to make women feel comfortable, respected, and appreciated in a professional environment. And let’s not forget about two other important aspects of inclusiveness: equal pay and career development opportunities.
Support for younger generations
Higher education institutions must promote cybersecurity as an advantageous potential profession for female students in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate majors through placement and career guidance programs.
IT and computer science students are not the only ones who make great information technology security candidates. Encouraging and providing access to industry training and certifications would also give students of any gender an advantage in their pursuit of a career in cybersecurity.
Speaking of which, there are now numerous professional non-profits in cybersecurity that have been created just to support and promote women in the workplace. Some of these are:
- Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC), a non-profit organization that offers training, networking, coaching, and a job board.
- Women in Cyber Security (WiCS) motivates the next generation to pursue a career in cybersecurity via courses in local schools, as well as partnering with universities to help students understand what it means to be a cybersecurity professional.
- Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) was founded in 2013 with funding from the National Science Foundation. The annual WiCyS conference is one of the most important events the women in the cybersecurity field.
- The Women CyberSecurity Society (WCSS) is a non-profit organization that aims to offer support to women and minorities who might be interested in a career in cybersecurity. Among others, the non-profit provides scholarships, mentorship, coaching, guidance, and workshops. They currently have seven divisions around the world and have become the founders of a global initiative: International Women in Cyber Day (IWCD), celebrated on September 1st. The movement’s goal is to raise awareness of the unique challenges faced by women in the cyber industry and to celebrate their accomplishments.
- The Women’s Security Alliance (WomSA) provides mentorship, training, and networking opportunities to women who are new to, returning to, or moving up in the cybersecurity workforce.
- The League of Women in Cybersecurity (LoWiCyS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping fill the infosec workforce gap by increasing the number of women in the industry. Their most notable initiative areas include low-cost, hands-on cybersecurity training, real-world experience opportunities, workforce entry/reentry assistance, and mentorship programs.
- Girls4Tech is an educational program offered by Mastercard that was designed to inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers by providing a fun, engaging curriculum that covers topics such as encryption, biometric data, fraud detection, and investigative work — all of which are necessary skills for cybersecurity.
And the list continues. These organizations play an important role in empowering women by fostering a sense of belonging and female support. However, these organizations are only needed in industries where women do not already receive equal treatment.
Heimdal’s Inspiring Women
We are proud to share that one of our many fantastic women here at Heimdal, Adelina Deaconu, has been nominated by IT Security Guru for the Most Inspiring Women In Cyber Awards 2022.
The XDR Powered SOC Team at Heimdal is led by Adelina, and under her direction, the group was able to develop into a full-fledged cybersecurity strategic squad. In addition, with Adelina’s guidance, the XDR Powered SOC Team facilitated the product usage process for its customers. She is also present in Heimdal’s webinars, make sure you check the one that has her as a guest here.
I am absolutely thrilled to be a nominee for the Most Inspiring Women in Cyber 2022 with such an amazing group of women! Cyber security is a challenging field for women to pursue, and I often get the question – what skills do one’s need to do my job?
The first thing you need to have in my job is discipline. You can’t just smile your way into this job, you can’t just charm your way into being a professional, it takes work, like everything else. You need to put your mind to it and make sacrifices as well.
The second thing is adaptability. Usually, we have a plan A, a plan B, and a plan C, and then something changes. Tactical improvisation – I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t been able to improvise.
And in my job, like in any other, you have to have integrity. What you have to do is to be better than everyone else, and that’s a terrible thing to say, but you have to be better than people expect you to be.
And the last thing you need is persistence. Entering a field dominated by men can seem intimidating, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find success. Dream it and you can definitely be it!”
We see encouraging signs when it comes to women succeeding in this industry, and I think it’s essential that they serve as role models for other women interested in joining the cybersecurity workforce. As a result, the workforce will be more diverse, more innovative, and better capable of resolving issues. Employers and the cybersecurity field as a whole must make cybersecurity a satisfying and welcoming profession for all individuals in order to create strong, properly staffed cybersecurity teams.
Encouraging more women to join the cybersecurity industry will only contribute to the field development and help organizations in securing the talented employees needed to fill today’s critical cybersecurity positions.
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