A shortage of talent has been a hot topic in cybersecurity for several years.
While leaps in machine-learning and artificial-intelligence technology have improved the cybersecurity field, they simply can’t completely replace human knowhow in cyber defense. Unfortunately, positions remain open and a talent gap is only sure to continue growing; unfilled cybersecurity jobs are estimated to swell to 1 million to 1.5 million worldwide in the next few years.
To bridge this widening cybersecurity talent gap, industry leaders have been looking into populations that are underrepresented within their ranks. But it doesn’t take much searching to see that women, who have consistently made up less than a quarter of the industry, are needed in much greater numbers.
The lack of women in cybersecurity is now seen as a key problem, but a number of organizations are trying to do something about it.
Groups including Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) and the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC) aim to mentor women entering the field and help their careers flourish. Researchers within the industry are convening to develop strategies to help women overcome various barriers to this career path.
Recently, nonprofit think tank New America organized a panel of experts to consider new ways of engaging women in cybersecurity. The group identified three major areas of opportunity:
- Improved coordination among existing efforts to support women in permeating the field
- Increased engagement with businesses in building out training and career advancement programs
- A shift in narratives about the cybersecurity career field, driven by marketing and representation on social platforms
While cybersecurity as a career offers significant benefits, and although even its leading organizations are thirsty for fresh talent, it is a discipline that has failed to communicate its appeal to women. As such, the industry remains dominated by men, reinforcing the perception that it is inaccessible for women. The only way to change this reputation includes a coordinated and focused effort from educators, recruiters and promoters.
Organizations also can play an important role by increasing the number of women on their cybersecurity staffs. One way to do this is to look outside of the IT department for women who might show the raw talent needed in cybersecurity, then harness it through professional training programs.