Women May Be the Key to Unlocking Cybersecurity Workforce Deficit Puzzle


Job seekers looking for a career in the cybersecurity profession generally have plenty of opportunities. Research and consulting company Frost & Sullivan projects that the number of unfilled cybersecurity positions will widen to 1.8 million by 2022. Once candidates find jobs in this field they can expect high salaries--$170,000 annually on average according to tech industry job finding site Dice. And they may also find an eventual career path to the board or even leading their own cybersecurity company. 

But as previously reported by Bloomberg BNA, some women aren’t feeling like they are getting the same opportunities to enter into and succeed in the cybersecurity workforce. Women face a much harder path to reach the upper echelons in cybersecurity, according a report from PwC, the Center for Cyber Safety Education and the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management and Privacy. As the workforce gap continues to rise, the growth rate of women in cybersecurity positions has stayed stagnant at 11 percent. Women reported having higher levels of education than men but didn’t receive the same levels of compensation or reach the higher echelons of the corporate world, according to the report. 

The situation isn’t any better elsewhere in the world. According to the report, women only make up 9 percent of the cybersecurity workforce in Europe, 5 percent of the workforce in the Middle East, 8 percent in Latin America, 9 percent in Africa and 10 percent across the Asia-Pacific region. The survey asked the opinions of a 19,641 information security professionals from 170 countries from June 22, 2016 through Sept. 11, 2016. 

Sloane Menkes, principal and global crisis center coordinator at PwC, told Bloomberg BNA that many women start to feel discouraged about entering the cybersecurity profession at the university level. To help solve the problem, women in executive and c-suite level roles need to start acting as mentors for those interested at the earliest levels of education, she said. Having a mentor to show the value of the cybersecurity profession and to help navigate some of the perceived or actual barriers to the profession is very important, Menkes said. 

This requires a global solution and isn’t limited to just U.S. companies, Menkes said. But, don’t expect a drastic change overnight, she said. It may take time but it shouldn’t “take 20 years” and we shouldn’t “have to wait for the next generation to make these changes.” 

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