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New research published today has found nearly half of cybersecurity professionals believe their industry is experiencing a skills gaps because it isn’t considered “cool” or “exciting.”

The “Opportunity in Cybersecurity 2020” report surveyed over 200 cybersecurity professionals in the UK and the US about their personal experiences working in the industry. Of those questioned, 42% felt that public perception of the industry as being boring and full of dorks was dissuading fresh talent from pursuing a career in cybersecurity. 

This opinion was found to be most prevalent among millennial respondents, 46% of whom blamed the cybersecurity skills gap on the industry’s square image.  

Shamla Naidoo, former CISO at IBM, said, “To many people, cybersecurity equates to—and is limited to—someone in a hoodie bent over a keyboard in a dark room. That’s not the case at all. If we don’t expand beyond that, we’ll lose out on even more people in the industry.” 

The report was drawn from surveys and research conducted by the Center for Economics and Business Research, commissioned by cybersecurity firm Tessian. 

According to the report, improving the industry’s image to recruit more women especially could have a particularly beneficial effect for America. Researchers discovered that if the number of women working in cybersecurity in the US equaled that of men, the economy would receive a $30.4bn boost. 

Fresh talent who don’t give a fig about the industry’s image may be put off working in cybersecurity because of the lack of equality when it comes to salary. At present, cybersecurity’s reputation is tarnished by an embarrassing 17% difference in how much men and women are paid in the US, and an even more shameful gap of 19% in the UK.

Of those surveyed for the report, 45% of US respondents said offering equal pay would help with recruitment. 

Researchers found that offering equal pay would also strengthen the US economy. An additional $12.7bn would be added to the US economy if women’s salaries were equal to those of their male colleagues.

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