CONQUERING GENDER DISPARITY IN CYBERSECURITY: UNDERREPRESENTATION OF WOMEN
Cybersecurity is a new area where equality will exist to allow intelligence to succeed. Cybersecurity needs women to be successful and without them, it will not, as the best talent is a must.
When web searching for cybersecurity experts, all you can see is a male-dominated sector which indicates the growing gender disparity in the tech world. The low representation of women in internet security is directly related to the broader problem of their low representation in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Women are always believed to be a misfit in anything that involves technology and logical understanding, the patriarchal values instilled in the society reflect women’s representation in different fields, the society appreciates and narrates stories of those who break the barriers yet does not encourage women to choose the IT sector, below are a few reasons and an analysis as to why women lack behind in the cybersecurity sector.
FACTORS PREVENTING WOMEN FROM JOINING THE IT SECTOR
Technology is ever-changing and advancing with time, however, it is important to consider the gender gap created in the cyber world. Talking about the numbers, women hold only 11 percent of cybersecurity jobs which is more than a social problem of gender imbalance. It’s lessening the numbers of candidates to fill the estimated 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs estimated to be unfilled in 2021’. Along with this, it means that half of the computer users are not represented in the cybersecurity space – causing potential trouble in both corporate and national security. The factors that cause this gender gap in the technology field to widen are related to the discrimination and biases faced by women in the profession. It is also influenced by the way people or society, in general, perceives men to be more suitable for such positions. When divided up by continent, the statistics around women in cybersecurity are extremely surprising; In North America, women comprise 14% of cybersecurity’s workforce – the largest percentage of any continent and Asia-Pacific is next at 10% followed by Africa at 9%, Latin America at 8%, Europe at 7%, and the Middle East just comprise 5%, which makes us wonder if these numbers are representative of larger cultural assumptions about the role of women in defense technology?
BENEFITS OF A GENDER-BALANCED CYBERSECURITY SECTOR
- It would help to bring different perspectives together which will lead to generating better ideas.
- Altering the status quo for the betterment of internal and external perceptions
- Presenting more learning opportunities and widening the scope of growth.
PERCEPTION AND BIASES
Society believes that internet security is a job that men are best suited for, though there is nothing inherent or biological in gender that predisposes men to be more interested in or more adept at cybersecurity. Adding to this, the industry unknowingly gives potential employees the impression that only technical skills matter in cybersecurity, which can, in turn, give women the impression that the field is overly technical or even boring.
Women are also generally not provided with many opportunities in information technology fields, in a survey of women pursuing careers outside of IT fields, 69 percent indicated that the main reason they didn’t pursue opportunities in IT was that they were unaware of them and hence, misinformation and unawareness is a major problem.
Hiking women’s involvement in information security would aid in both security and business sense. Female leaders in this sector tend to prioritize important areas that males often overlook which is partly due to their backgrounds. 44 percent of women in information security fields have degrees in business and social sciences, compared to 30 percent of men, this gives us a background on how women can contribute largely to the IT field.
Female internet security experts put a higher priority on internal training and education in security and risk management and women are also better advocates for online training, which is a flexible, low-cost way of boosting employees’ awareness of security issues.
HOW CAN COMPANIES ENCOURAGE MORE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN
There are a lot of initiatives various companies can aim at to reduce the gender imbalance in the cybersecurity field. Issues related to cybersecurity can threaten to destabilize the internet and other related technologies, creating ripple effects throughout other industries, in order to fight this, there is an ever-increasing need for educated, talented, and enthusiastic cybersecurity professionals.
As explained above, the cybersecurity industry is a male-dominated one but the actual problem isn’t that there are too many men in the industry, but rather that there are not enough women in the field.
This gender gap has not gone unnoticed and now plenty of individuals and organizations realize that we collectively need to take action. This prioritizes attracting more women to the cybersecurity field and empowering them to be successful in their careers.
There are different initiatives in place across the globe with the common goal of supporting women in cybersecurity which often include education, training, networking, mentorship, and socializing, among other offerings.
There are many initiatives from around the globe like WiCyS (Women in Cybersecurity), WSC (Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu), WoSEC (Women of cybersecurity), and many more are based in different countries or are working globally to combat the issue.
To conclude, the gender divide in cybersecurity around the globe is very clear, reframing common misconceptions women have about cybersecurity is important for helping them see the opportunities in the field. It is crucial to bridge the gap between women interested in tech and opportunities of cybersecurity as a profession, it is important that we encourage more women to join the sector.