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Why we need more women in cybersecurity

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Did you know that according to the latest SANS Institute survey, women only hold around “20% of the global cybersecurity positions?” Although this is a notable increase from 11% in 2013, more progress still needs to be made. Because as the World Economic Forum (WEF) observes, “nowhere is the workforce-skills gap more pronounced than in cybersecurity.”

As the job openings continue to grow, there is an excellent opportunity for more women (and men) to follow this career path. But why is there such a significant gender gap in cybersecurity, and why do we need more women to enter the sector? This article explains some of the potential reasons why there is such a significant gender difference in cybersecurity and how the industry could benefit from bridging that gap.

There is not only a gender gap but also a substantial skills gap

The cybersecurity market is rapidly growing. Subsequently, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is exceptionally high. However, employers are continuously struggling to find suitable candidates. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that there will be “3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally by 2021, up from one million positions in 2014”.

One of the main reasons for unfilled cybersecurity jobs is because the number of people trained in this area is not growing at the same pace as the number of positions that are becoming available. It’s therefore critical that this knowledge and skills gap is bridged. This may provide you with an excellent opportunity if you’re interested in this profession. To help close the cybersecurity skills gap, you will need to consider getting an accredited certification in cybersecurity. This certification will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to launch your career in the  cybersecurity industry.

The combination of skills required

Another ongoing concern in this area is the misleading idea that the only career opportunity in this field is to become a Cybersecurity Engineer. But this is not true at all. Not only have the number of jobs in information security increased during the last years, but the boom has also come in the proliferation of the type of jobs available, making this industry even more stimulating and exciting.

Today, it is possible to work as a Cybersecurity Manager, Cybersecurity Analyst, Network Engineer or Architect, Information Administrator and Systems Engineer, among many other job titles. And if we set our sights on the future, due to the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), in a decade, there will be even more roles that we don’t even have names for yet.

In such a fast-moving and rewarding industry, women can bring key skills to the table and provide diversity to teams. Regardless of being male or female, well-prepared cybersecurity professionals will need to have the right combination of skills. Technical skills are essential to perform cybersecurity jobs. But to enter the cybersecurity industry, it is also important to have solid work habits andthe ability to work methodically. To be able to climb the ladder to more advanced positions, others skills are required too, such as excellent communication and presentation skills, the ability to articulate complex concepts, both written and verbally, as well as the ability to listen and understand others, especially clients.

The industry perception is evolving

Although traditionally, the media has shown cybersecurity as dark and mysterious, the image of the industry is evolving and becoming more appealing for young professionals. This is helping discern the perception that information security is just about coding and cables. And more people can see the bigger picture and understand that cybersecurity professionals are essential in protecting both individuals and organisations from damaging cyber attacks.

It’s interesting that while stereotypically, more men have worked in this industry, and its perception has traditionally been quite male-orientated, many women in cybersecurity are very high up in the career ladder. The ranking of the top 25 women leaders in cybersecurity is an excellent sign of progress towards closing the gender gap in this industry, and they represent a meaningful inspiration for women aspiring to develop a career at the forefront of technology.

Positive networks

If we want to open the cybersecurity industry to more women, there is still some work to do in two main areas: education and industry awareness.

From the education point of view, it is essential to engage school children through workshops or demonstrations, to help inspire them to strive for cybersecurity careers. These positive connections and networks from early education will need to continue, to encourage more girls to take STEM subjects.

Improving awareness about the cybersecurity career opportunities for women will need to be done through better marketing communications. Ensuring the messaging is gender-neural is key, as well as developing the explanations about the type of jobs available and what they involve. It is essential to transmit that as well as technical knowledge and computer abilities, to develop a successful career in cybersecurity, it is also necessary to have organisational skills and other leadership qualities.

As you can see, the cybersecurity industry offers many exciting opportunities, for both men and women. And it’s an industry that enables you to work with a variety of people in a very interesting, motivating and fast-moving environment.

About Maria Onzain

Maria Onzain is a writer and the founder of Travel for Food Hub. She loves telling stories about innovation, entrepreneurship, women and education among others. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring new cultures and sharing her adventures as a foodie traveler.

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