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Number of women in cybersecurity industry continues to remain low

Nayela Deeba | March 28, 2017
What should organisations do to increase the representation of women in the industry, which also helps address the shortage of talents to secure the digital economy?

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The number of women in the cybersecurity industry continues to remain low, according to a Women in Cybersecurity report.

Conducted by Frost & Sullivan, the report that is part the Center for Cyber Safety and Education's (formerly known as (ISC)2 Foundation) 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study.

Globally, women make up just 11 percent of the cybersecurity workforce-similar to that in 2013. In Asia Pacific, women consist of only 10 percent of the cybersecurity workforce.

The report also revealed that 51 percent of women hold a Master's degree or higher, as compared to 45 percent of men.

Women working in cybersecurity are also found to have a more varied educational background than men, contributing to the diverse set of skills they can potentially bring to the industry. Despite that, on average, women in the information security industry are earning a lower annual salary than their male counterparts.

"It's disappointing to see that the number of women in the cybersecurity workforce continues to remain low. We must encourage young women; help them to see that information security is a challenging, lucrative and exciting career field. We must also promote women into leadership positions, and pay them at levels that are equal to their male counterparts," explained David Shearer, CEO, the Center for Cyber Safety and Education and (ISC)2.

Besides Shearer, other experts are also urging organisations to provide a career path and advancement opportunities for women in the cybersecurity field to address the shortage of talents.

"The Women in Cybersecurity report found that 52 percent of millennial women have a computer science degree, yet the number of women in the cybersecurity workforce has remained stagnant for the last two years. We are already facing a significant skills gap in cybersecurity with positions going unfilled. If we continue on this track, we will be unable to secure the digital economy," said Sam King, Chief Strategy Officer, Veracode.

"In addition to focusing on cybersecurity education at the university level, creating programmes aimed at high school and middle school students will help to create enthusiasm for this industry," advised King.

Sloane Menkes, PwC principal and global crisis center coordinator, added: "Proactively developing this career path will combat gender inequality and prevent further decline in the overall security labor pool. While there is significant demand for high-skilled workers, there is also a critical pipeline issue of women joining our cybersecurity workforce. Cybersecurity leaders need to commit to reversing this trend - from our universities to our board rooms - before the issue is irreversible."

"Mature cyber security teams require a mix of skills and diversity of thought - you must foster teamwork that's inclusive and integrates multi-disciplinary and diverse perspectives" said Angela Messer, a Booz Allen Executive Vice President, and leader of the firm's Cyber innovation business and cyber talent development champion.

 

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