“When you can’t find someone to follow, you have to find a way to lead by example.”
― Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist
If we look for the industries wherein the gender gap persists, no doubt ‘Cybersecurity’ is one of such fields. Historically and Currently, Males are dominating the field of cybersecurity. There is no surprise to know that in cybersecurity jobs, women are underrepresented as information technology has been considered stereotypically male-dominated. To fill this gap more women in different positions in the cybersecurity field and finally in leadership positions are required. For this misconceptions about the cybersecurity field should be rectified. Those who have succeeded in this field reveal that cybersecurity is not about only about technology but also it’s about tracking the data and giving protection to people who have compromised their data. Those people who see thing differently and wants to do something different and look for success in this fast-paced environment should enter this field of cyber security – Be it Female or Male!
Present Scenario of Women in the Field of Cyber Security
As per a recent study, only 14 % of the total cybersecurity workforce are female employees. Surprisingly only 1 % of these 14 % female cybersecurity workforce possess any senior position or leadership authority. This shows that the new outlook workforce in cybersecurity pertaining pay disparity and counting of men outnumber the counting of women. ISC report says that though women’s participation in the cyber security field is growing gradually still women make up a very lesser percentage of the workforce and this increment is not enough. Cybercrime Magazine (March 2021) discloses that women now make up approximately 20 percent of the global Infosys payrolls. This is, of course, an encouraging improvement from six years ago, but still woefully shy of the 50 percent range that would represent parity.
Women in Cybersecurity (Source: Cybercrime Magazine,2021)
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, in comparison to 10 % in 2013 and 20 % in 2019, women are now holding approx. 25 % of cybersecurity jobs in 2021 at the global level. The research is considering corporate network jobs and includes IIOT and ICS security, IoT security, aviation cybersecurity, automotive cybersecurity, medical device security, and other market categories. Though now a day, women are making their place in the cybersecurity service provider ecosystem very well which also include digital forensics and small business owned by women. A prediction made by cybersecurity ventures reveals that women are going to represent 30 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce by 2025 and in 2031 it will reach 35 percent.
Reasons for Lesser Number of Women Representation in the Field of Cybersecurity
- Gender Stereotype
The notion that women cannot make their career in the field of cyber security may be false but somewhere it influences society and our young girls. They are told that it is very difficult to make and sustain your career as a techie in network security. If, however, girls choose their career in the IT security team by breaking these barriers may find themselves surrounded by men and an unconscious bias makes a woman find opportunities for career advancement. This stereotyped idea that cybersecurity is solely a technical field and men are better suited for network security jobs is influencing the entry of women’s workforce in cybersecurity, because of such baseless notions, women are steered away from the opportunity, classes, and training that can lead to careers in the cybersecurity field. There are a few myths that exist in society about women making careers in the cybersecurity field.
- The first myth-
American Psychological Association reported that men and women have equal capabilities in dealing with math and science subjects and even in verbal ability. It is a myth that men are more competent in dealing with practical subjects or dealing with technology and network security issues and in the consequences. boys are given more opportunities to get exposure to practical ability-based job options and vice-versa than girls. Thus if women assume that the cybersecurity field is not for them, it is based on purely stereotypical mindsets and not based on reality.
- The second myth –
The notion that only strong technical skills are required in the cybersecurity field needs to be examined once again closely as cybersecurity is a field where perspective is a required and innovative method to protect the data in terms of creating passwords etc.
Opportunities in Cybersecurity Jobs:
- The number of jobs in cybersecurity is increasing gradually, the number of cybersecurity jobs has increased by 350 percent. In a survey of cybersecurity ventures, the period of eight years was from one million in 2013 to 3.5 million in 2021. The cybersecurity skills gap is leveling off for the very first time in a decade.
- A famous global recruiting consultancy named The Hindu Business Line states that 1.5 million job vacancies are lined up only in India by 2025.
- According to a report submitted by National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), reveals that In the U.S., nearly 600,000 positions in the cybersecurity field are unfilled.
- As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – in the next decade – ‘Information Security Analyst’ will become the growing occupation with a 31 percent growth rate in comparison to the average growth rate of 4 percent for all other occupations.
Why Women can be Better Performers in the field of Cybersecurity
- This is very surprising to know from a study from Nord Pass that women have been found more creative in the framing of passwords while protecting themselves from online attacks and are more concerned about possible attacks due to hacking and thus proving themselves better in the field of cybersecurity. According to this study – 43 % of women used a unique password for online accounts and 57 % for financial institutions on and banks and approx. 38 % used unique passwords for the communication apps as well
- In comparison to women, only 36 % of men are using unique combinations for framing passwords for online bank accounts and only 42 % for passwords of personal emails, and 31 % for any app of communications. One more observation has been observed from the various studies that the percentage ratio of victims of cybercrime in terms of men Vs women is 54% Vs 46%. Nowadays, there is a drastic need for gender balance and talent in the field of the cybersecurity Industry. Many women are more highly educated, and talented than men but still eradicating the stigma of a male-dominated STEM job industry is critical. A more balanced workforce
- In 2021, Cyber-attacks cost $6 trillion globally in comparison to $ 5.2 trillion in 2019. To break the glass ceiling, getting more women is a must now as women work very hard to up-skill aggressively. Shannon, a global leader agreed that indeed more women are needed in the cybersecurity field because to view a problem from a different point of view and to arrive at an innovative and real comprehensive solution to a problem, women with the art of problem-solving are required. Currently, there’s a far-fetched dearth of women globally who could participate in this field. As women view cybersecurity not only from a software programmer’s view but from the multidirectional direction which brings additional skills such as – analytical skills, higher emotional intelligence, attention to detail, and thought leadership.
This challenge to manage a cyber security incident or attack is due to a shortage of skills within a team, Global leaders are finding it difficult to recruit talent and retention in the cybersecurity field. This is one of the main vulnerabilities of a cybersecurity team which can be overcome by adequate personnel who will be more security-focused and if multitalented women can bridge this gap, then they should come up to mark their presence in this male-dominated field It is more security problem rather than a representation problem. Due to the skewness of this field, security may be at risk and the truth is that this naïve field of security needs more women representation now. Any field can bring innovation only if it considers diverse perspectives but the need for diversification of perspectives is of higher order in such an ever-expanding field with a variety of threats.
Dr. Sonal Pathak