With evidence from recent surveys (and the past two decades), it is clear there is a shortage of women working in cyber security. This is an ongoing market characteristic that, finally, many companies are now aiming to disrupt. Women currently represent 20% of the technology industry as a whole and just 11% of that in cyber security. This has not changed since 2017 and has barely made a move in either direction for the past 20 years. What is preventing and delaying women entering and staying in the industry?
Diversity and inclusion making noise in the right places
Doing the maths leaves 80% of the technology industry being male, which is not a balanced number. Whether it is a paucity of necessary skills, a need for cultural change or company diversity awareness, the need for the shift towards an even gender split is beginning to make noise in the right places. At the beginning of 2019 the UK government introduced new funding to help drive forward diversity in the cyber security industry.
“Diversity encourages a culture where divergent opinions can be brought together to develop innovative solutions to solve some of the toughest problems our nation faces today” according to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Career and Studies.
Society is pushing for diversity, which would lead you to believe that changes are now more possible than ever. It isn’t unreasonable to believe that individual CTOs and tech leaders aren’t consciously opposed to females in their industry, however, might it be the case that women are not being presented with opportunities the right way?
What challenges do women face in the cyber security sector?
History of the cyber security industry has dictated a male dominated reputation, with some organisations still living to this stereotype. Not that this has been done intentionally, but unfortunately, we are still in a transition period for companies to invite tech savvy modern-day men and women into their ranks. Cyber security as a whole is overcoming its own hurdles within the industry, especially in trying to separate itself from the ‘IT’ title that it has been associated with.
As the number of cyber-attacks in the UK continues to rise, on average a 40% increase from 2018, companies are now paying attention to the potential workforce that was previously overlooked; women. Tech is not slowing down in its evolution, so a constant appreciation for new ways of thinking and a diverse work force can only contribute to both men and women wanting a future career within it.
What are we witnessing here at Eames?
From a recruitment perspective we are seeing a consistent majority of men applying for cyber security positions, and unfortunately a pattern is emerging that the more technical the role becomes, the more male dominated the applicants are.
Companies are crying out for more women to join their ranks, not to fill a quota, but to add a necessary diversity to an adapting sector that is currently experiencing a candidate shortage. We as an industry now need to focus on the next generation of tech talent and make sure gender equality of opportunity exists.
What can be done to change these statistics? I am interested to hear your thoughts on why women are not applying for cyber security roles in as a great a volume as men. How do you interrupt the industry and its attraction for women to make a career in it?