Cybersecurity is required to be a dynamic industry because cybercriminals don’t take days off. Cybersecurity professionals must be innovative, creative, and attentive to keep gaining the upper hand on cybercriminals. Unfortunately, there are millions of unfilled cybersecurity job openings around the globe.

The gender divide

The problem of not enough cybersecurity professionals is exacerbated by a lack of diversity in the sector. There is a disproportionately low ratio of women to men within the entire technology industry. In the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries, women make up only 24% of the workforce, and while this has increased from just 11% in 2017, there is clearly still a sizeable disparity.

The cybersecurity industry is performing only marginally better than STEM, with women making up roughly 24% of cybersecurity jobs globally, according to (ISC)².

There is also a parallel trend here: women have superior qualifications in cybersecurity than their male counterparts. Over half of women – 52% – have postgraduate degrees, compared to just 44% of men. More importantly, 28% of women have cybersecurity-related qualifications, while only 20% of men do. This raises one important point, which is that women feel that they must be more qualified than men to compete for and hold the same cybersecurity roles. The industry is, therefore, losing a significant pool of talent because of this perception. Untapped talent means less innovation and dynamism in the products and services businesses offer.

Unfortunately, the challenges for women do not appear to stop once they enter the cybersecurity workforce. Pay disparity continues to blight the industry. Women reported being on smaller salaries at a higher proportion than men. 17% of women reported earning between $50,000 and $99,000 compared to 29% of men. However, there are signs that this disparity in pay is closing. For those in cybersecurity who earned over $100,000, the difference in percentage between men and women was much closer. This is encouraging and shows that once women are in the industry, they can enjoy as much success as men.

Nevertheless, reaching these higher levels of the cybersecurity industry is far from straightforward for women at present. It is an unavoidable fact that women still struggle to progress as easily compared to male counterparts. A key reason for this is cultural: women are disinclined to shout about their achievements, as such they regularly go unnoticed when promotions and other opportunities come round.

The cybersecurity industry is starting to embrace diversity in the workforce, but there is a long way to go before women are as valued in cybersecurity as men. With the current skills deficit hampering the growth of cybersecurity providers, this is a perfect opportunity for the industry and individual providers to break the bias and turn to women to speed up innovation and improve defense against cybercriminals.

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