Needed: More Women in Cybersecurity
The cybersecurity job market is dominated by men, but experts say that many firms are keenly interested in drawing women. Only 11 percent of the world’s information security workforce are women, according to the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu, an organization designed to help and empower women to succeed in the cybersecurity field. One of the biggest obstacles in increasing the number of women in cybersecurity is that there are so few women in executive roles, that role models are few and far between.
Why is the percentage of women in cybersecurity so surprisingly low? According to Barrett Sellers, of Arbor Networks, a global security firm, it starts in early life. “As a society, we need to encourage young girls to embrace technology as a skill. When girls are growing up, there are unconscious subtleties that steer computer technology to boys,” she says.
To encourage more women to explore cybersecurity field, Barrett thinks that more schools need to offer it as a study source beginning at elementary age and encourage young females to participate. “We need to let girls know that it is ok to be smart, to be a challenger, to want to make a difference in the world via technology and it is ok to work in a career that requires a lot out of you,” she says.
Gender specific challenges, also need to be addressed in cybersecurity, she says. “As a female in a male dominant field, it is important to practice patience while being assertive. Women have to find the balance of speaking with technical certainty and being assertive. Learning these skills takes time and many women who enter the field get out early because they cannot handle it.”
Sellers also thinks that cybersecurity companies need to develop mentor programs geared towards retaining female coders and grooming female executives “so that a higher number of women who enter the field stay.”