Women in Cybersecurity: bridging the gender gap
According to a survey by ISC2, women working in cybersecurity currently account for about one quarter (24%) of the overall workforce. This then shows that although men significantly outnumber women in cybersecurity, more and more women are starting to join this field and asserting themselves in the profession.
Yet, there is still a long way to go before completely bridging the gender gap in cybersecurity. Women are still faced with many challenges, especially as this environment has always been so male-dominated.
Thus, we have talked to women who work in cybersecurity on the importance of gender diversity in the field and how to improve it.
Gender diversity in cybersecurity
According to a report from Cybersecurity Ventures, it was stated that women only represent ⅕ of the cybersecurity workforce.
Sonya Moisset, Lead Security Engineer at Photobox, points out that we have to keep in mind that the field is a fast-growing pace industry, but this evolution doesn’t apply to the number of women in the field – the field being depicted as a male-dominated industry. Hence, cybersecurity has much progress to be made in terms of gender parity and diversity in general.
Moreover, Melanie Molina, Security Engineer at GoCardless, adds that many companies have shifted their perspective and have seen diversity as an amplifier with great benefits. By doing so, they have introduced more discussions and efforts in refining their hiring process, helping reduce bias and be more open to talent without traditional backgrounds or stereotypical traits, that would in the past describe the only candidates in the pipeline. Thanks to this, we can see more opportunities for women and their rightful validation in the cybersecurity field.
Yet, she continues, there is still a lot of work to do, and not all companies are in this journey for inclusion and diversity. It is also not as simple as refining the recruitment process and hiring more women but also working on retaining talent, ensuring that the culture promotes the same opportunities for growth and respect for all and that there are resources and education efforts to reduce bias and sexism in the workplace.
Vaibhavi Sobti, Software Development Engineer II at Amazon, also states that she has observed different patterns at different places. Indeed, technical colleges in India have a really skewed gender ratio and cybersecurity is no exception. As for the tech industry, she has noticed that teams with bad work-life balance lack gender diversity while the situation is better at other places.
Are women a minority in cybersecurity?
According to the latest numbers, Sonya notes that women are still a minority in this field.
This could then be explained by the challenges they are facing as well as the perceptions based on status quo rather than scientific evidence, such as STEM fields being more suited to men than women and that the field is for ‘techie’ people. She adds that closing the gender gap would help correct these perceptions.
Vaibhavi also underlines that cybersecurity is a lesser-explored field in computer science that is taught mostly at the postgraduate level in India, which makes it a lesser-known domain to college graduates. It is only when they go into the industry that they realise the importance of cybersecurity. Besides, traditionally engineering has remained a male-dominated field of study in India which might be one reason why we see fewer women in cybersecurity.
Melanie adds that women have come a long way in terms of progression and condemning sexism. Yet, one of the things she found to be the toughest, is the normalisation of behaviour that negatively impacts this progression – including the normalisation of reactions, vocabulary, dialogue etc that may seem harmless but its accumulative power can have a negative view/perception of women.