In part one, Luke touched on the gender disparity that exists in the cyber security sector, and how clear it is that the industry could suffer in the future as a result of its failure to engage with women. Here, he takes us further into Part 2 of his blog.
In my role as a Head-hunter, I am reminded on a weekly basis of how great the imbalance is. I interview about 100 candidates a week. Of this number, only about five will be women – and that’s a good week. That’s taking into account a range of different career levels, from analysts up to management-level candidates.
It’s quite staggering that, even in 2019, such huge disparity still exists, especially when there’s no good reason for it. For me, there’s no greater evidence of the fact that problems do still exist, and that without conscious efforts being made to change the way we educate both girls and boys about the value of diversity, they will persist.
The good news
The good news is that, while problems do exist in the cyber security market as it stands, I am confident that we are beginning to move towards a brighter future for all involved.
My optimism stems from the fact that many of us in the industry are aware of the barriers that exist, and therefore thinking about how we can begin to knock them down. The issue is being highlighted more and more, meaning that key influencers – from employers to the government to educators – are being encouraged to enact real change in cybersecurity.
What’s more, those women who do work in the sector are being encouraged to promote the fact that females can survive and thrive in technology roles and set a positive example for women who may be interested in entering the profession further down the line.
Programs of engagement are so important in the long term and both schools and businesses need to pick up the slack to ensure we are not still talking about this in 5 years!
What can be done?
Helping women obtain:
Cybersecurity work experience
School/college/university/company sponsored Hackathons
School cybersecurity events
Teaching cybersecurity as part of a comprehensive technology syllabus
And simply breaking misconceptions (cybersecurity is not all about coding!)
Finally, Initiatives such as ‘Women in cybersecurity’ (www.wicys.net) are also blazing a trail!
Why is equality important?
It’s worth remembering that we’re not just pushing for equality for equality’s sake. We’re pushing for equality, and diversity in general because it helps to create a stronger and more effective workforce that can better deal with the cyber attacks of the future.
In the last few years, it has become clear that the threat landscape has quickly evolved and become a genuine danger to both businesses and individuals.
Therefore, what’s required is a diverse and flexible cyber security industry that employs people with different backgrounds, processes and ways of working, in order to respond to emerging threats. A diverse industry has a better chance of achieving success than a stagnant one.