BLOG: Women In Cyber – What Progress Are We Making?

Women In Cyber - What Progress Are We Making

Cybersecurity is a critical topic for all countries however, the gender gap within cybersecurity is a reoccurring topic. The topic poses the question “are we doing enough?”. There is a worldwide workforce shortage of approximately 4 million people, including 2.1 million across the Asia-Pacific region. A survey conducted by Tessian shows that only about half of the respondents said their organisations were doing enough to recruit women into cybersecurity roles. The report has projected a shortage of 1.8 million professionals globally by 2022, so organisations must prioritise diversity more than ever.

According to UN Women, there is a significant gender gap in cybersecurity where women in Asia, and the Pacific Islands, account for less than 10% of the workforce. LinkedIn Talent Insights reports that women only made up 26% of the workforce in Singapore as of March 2021.

With the rapid growth of technology within the southeast region of Asia, it is believed and expected that cybercrime will grow exponentially and despite the need for roles to be filled to combat this crime, women are vastly underrepresented in the field. Only 30% of women enter the industry in Asia-Pacific, according to a 2020 cyber security workforce study by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC). 

African countries also face a shortage of talented cybersecurity professionals and unfortunately, only 9% of cybersecurity professionals in Africa are female. Research has found that women in Africa have lower digital literacy and less access to internet-based technologies than men. This suggests that women may be left out of work opportunities in an increasingly digital post-pandemic economy. In Latin America, this figure reaches only 8%, and only 1% occupy executive positions.

Source: Deloitte

According to Deloitte Global, Women reportedly made up a 24% percentage of the cybersecurity workforce in large technology companies last year and are projected to make up 25% this year. Deloitte Global, also noted that large global technology firms managed to achieve “nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022, up slightly more in 2019 and a 14% increase from 2013 when women represented 11% of the cybersecurity workforce.

It was reported that 35% of STEM students in higher education in the UK are women, this number was a lot lower in years before and although this may not be a huge change it is a sign of things moving in the right direction. There are nearly 12,000 more female professional engineers than in 2016, whilst the number of men in engineering professional roles dropped by 36,000.

While we explained earlier that women currently make up 25% of those employed in computer occupations and 15% of those working in engineering occupations, the representation among Black and Hispanic women in these fields is even lower (7% and 8% respectively in computer occupations and 5% and 9% respectively in engineering occupations).

Issues related to cybersecurity threaten to destabilise the internet and related technologies, causing ripple effects throughout other industries. To combat this, there is an ever-increasing need for educated, talented, and enthusiastic cybersecurity professionals.

One of the many contributing factors is that women don’t know where to start when it comes to breaking into male-dominated professions and many stereotypes and misconceptions may contribute to the apprehensiveness of women in joining the cyber industry. But, closing the gender gap will help pave the way for a future of diversity in the cybersecurity field.

Having more women in cybersecurity would assist the industry and satisfy the drastic need that companies have for top talent. The (ISC)2 study found that women in the cybersecurity field are, in general, have a higher education than men, 44% of men in cybersecurity have a postgraduate degree, compared to 52% of women. Women in the cybersecurity field are more likely to reach leadership positions. This shows that gender diversity comes with growth and learning opportunities. The entire workforce and organization as a whole can benefit from the recruitment of more highly-qualified and ambitious women.

Different and diverse initiatives are in place worldwide with the common goal of supporting women in cybersecurity. These initiatives usually include education, training, networking, mentorship, and socialising, among other offerings. Plenty of individuals and organisations realize we need to take action. Priorities include attracting more women to the cybersecurity field and empowering them to be successful in their careers.

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