Women necessary in closing cyber security skills gap

The issue of the gender gap pervades most industries, but within cyber security the problem is hitting new lows

Earlier this year, cyber security dominated the news as one of the biggest ransomware attacks ever hit companies across the globe. Furthermore, experts warn that attackers are likely to strike again, targeting new vulnerabilities and creating havoc like that seen in the wake of WannaCry and Petya.Worryingly, even though the need the need for cybersecurity skills has never been more urgent, we do not have enough skilled cybersecurity professionals to deal with new attacks.According to a report by ISC, the information security field will experience a 1.5 million deficit in professionals by 2020. Yet women, who could help to fill that gap, remain massively underrepresented – comprising just 10 percent of the global workforce.

Michelle Johnson Cobb, VP Worldwide Marketing for Skybox Security, explains that education is not the issue – indeed, 58% of women in the field have advanced computer science and engineering degrees compared to 47% of men.So, somewhere between graduating and getting on the career path, women are turning away – or being turned away from – cyber security.To close the skills gap and attract more women into information security, Cobb recommends a number of solutions.Diversify cyber security teamsCyber security is incredibly complex and requires a diverse skillset that is not adequately represented by one homogenous group. Diverse groups are more adept at problem solving, so assembling teams that have an equal mix of men and women should be a priority.

Leverage critical soft skillsTechnical skills shouldn’t be the only consideration: cybersecurity requires collaboration, which research shows women tend to be better at than their male counterparts, as well as careful management of objectives and risks.Attract top female talentToo often, cybersecurity is perceived as being a “man’s world” – this is a misconception that needs addressing early on, by giving younger women who are interested in STEM subjects the encouragement and support they need to consider careers in cyber security.

Capitalise on a growth opportunityIn response to the explosion of cybercrime costs, IT spending is predicted to reach $101 billion in 2018, soaring 35% in just three years. This increase in spending means that there is an attractive opportunity for women looking for stable employment and competitive wagesRecruiting more women into cyber security is a win-win: women get an exciting, stable and cutting-edge career path, and businesses benefit from a much-needed source of skilled talent to help them stay ahead of cyber attackers.


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