Four Things Companies are Doing to Attract More Women to Cybersecurity
The fact that women are underrepresented within the information security industry is well documented. Recent surveys indicate that women comprise less than 15 percent of the current workforce and among those who do work in the field, turnover is high.
However, many Cybersecurity companies are making positive changes to help attract and retain women in this rapidly expanding field. Overall, companies are welcoming to women, but it’s often the culture and expectations of working in such a male-dominated field that are keeping women away. Organizations making great strides toward filling more security roles with women are addressing some of the most common barriers to female achievement in Cybersecurity.
1. Changing the Language
Much of the language used in Cybersecurity focuses on combat, or locating and vanquishing adversaries; following the typical pattern of Cybersecurity professionals as law enforcement and Cybercriminals as enemies to conquer. While this language may be accurate, it may be off-putting to women, who tend to focus on protecting the innocent and helping others rather than taking out invisible enemies. As a result, companies are changing job descriptions to reflect the purpose of Cybersecurity more effectively and encouraging employees to alter the language used when describing their activities.
2. Valuing Non-Technical Strengths
Multiple studies have found that companies with women in leadership roles have a better overall performance than those that do not. Women tend to demonstrate specific leadership behaviors, such as collaborating in decision-making, developing and encouraging talent, and building relationships.
While technical skills are certainly vital in Cybersecurity, bringing these additional skills to the table improves the performance of the department and encourages innovation. Companies that show they value these skills are attracting more women to their ranks.
3. Championing Role Models
One of the most successful strategies for attracting women to Cybersecurity in recent years has been highlighting women who have succeeded in the field. Championing women who have already broken down barriers in the workplace and positioning them as role models to those just entering the field provides guidance and support to those who may be struggling and has the potential to inspire women to continue advancing in the field.
4. Supporting Education
One of the biggest trends in education today is encouraging young girls — starting as early as the first grade — to pursue STEM subjects and seek careers in IT. Many companies are providing financial support to these learning programs and are creating opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience within the technology field.
Organizations are proactively supporting the development of future employees by providing additional training and education, and encouraging women to gain the knowledge they need to succeed in the field.
There is a lot of work being done to attract (and keep) women in the field, but there is still a long way to go before women achieve true equality in Cybersecurity. The more women who overcome the current barriers, the more those barriers will disappear, and the greater the chance of a more equitable gender division in the field.