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Opportunity in Cybersecurity Report 2021

Cybersecurity has jobs, money, and finally cred. So how do you break in?


Cybersecurity in 2020
Cybersecurity is pandemic-proof

COVID-19 has had a profound effect on unemployment rates. But, as the global job market has contracted, cybersecurity appears to have expanded, putting IT and security professionals in high demand. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, 10 of the 15 roles with the most significant annual growth are related to computer software, IT, or network security. And, for the first time, the well-known skills gap has actually diminished

This is backed up by our survey data. 94% of cybersecurity teams hired new staff members in 2020.

This hiring trend isn’t isolated; it’s consistent across industries, from Healthcare to Finance.

Opportunity in Cybersecurity Report 2020
See what women in cybersecurity had to say about the skills gap, gender bias, and how to encourage new entrants.
Bucking The Trend
Job security, despite uncertainty

“Uncertain” may have been the buzzword of 2020, but it can’t be used to describe women working in cybersecurity.

89% report feeling secure in their jobs. In the midst of a global recession, what may be even more striking is that nearly half (49%) also said that COVID-19 affected their career as a woman in cybersecurity in a positive way.

Is it increased investment in IT that’s driving this contentment? The flexibility of working from home? Or, could it have something to do with reduced gender inequality?

Last year, we asked women if they believed there was a gender bias problem in cybersecurity. 66% said yes. This year, it’s down to 53%. Progress.

An Unlikely Home
The voice of a generation

In 2020, 42% of women working in cybersecurity said that one of the biggest deterrents for new entrants was that the industry isn’t considered “cool” or “exciting”.

We went directly to the source by asking recent graduates. Our data tells a different story.

76% of 18-25 years old said that cybersecurity is interesting. 88% said it’s important. Male and female…the sentiment is the same across the board.

We may be biased, but it makes sense. 

In the last year, cybersecurity has been associated with TikTok, the US presidential election, Twitter, and Bitcoin. It’s mainstream and high stakes.

The Work To Be Done
On the fence

Despite Gen Z describing cybersecurity as “interesting” and “important”, just 31% say they would consider a job in the field, with men almost twice as likely as women. 

But, there’s hope. The majority of recent grads don’t seem to have a strong preference either way. Nearly half (45%) just aren’t sure whether or not cybersecurity is for them.

When asked why, many were worried that they didn’t have the skills they’d need to thrive. Others weren’t sure how to navigate a career change.

That means there’s work to be done. To make the industry more appealing, we have to first make it more accessible by painting a clear picture of what the work actually entails and how to break into the industry.

A Different Side
Soft skills matter, too

IT skills and knowledge of computer science and engineering may be prerequisites for some roles in cybersecurity. But all roles require soft skills.

In 2020, we asked cybersecurity professionals what the most important skills are to thrive in various roles. While data analytics stole the top spot, creativity, collaboration, and people management were all highly revered, too.  

If you ask women working in cybersecurity, though, skills aren’t the biggest barrier to entry.

The Hard Line
Money talks

According to female practitioners, there are a lot of things that would encourage other women to consider roles in the field.

Role models and apprenticeship programs. A greater emphasis on STEM subjects. Cybersecurity-specific curriculums. 

But, more than anything else….money. More specifically, equal pay.

Closing the pay gap wouldn’t just benefit the women taking home checks. If women earned as much as their male counterparts, the economic impact of the entire industry would increase, with a further $12.7 billion added in the US and £4.4 billion in the UK.

The Future is Cyber 2021
Download the Full Report
Want more? Download the full report for additional first-hand insights from women currently working in cybersecurity and recent graduates.
Tessian commissioned Opinion Matters to survey 200 female cybersecurity professionals (100 in the UK and 100 in the US). Survey respondents occupied various roles including CISO, network engineer, security architect, incident response, pen tester, security analyst, software developer, data scientist, risk & compliance, and security operations .We also surveyed 1,000 18-25 year olds (both male and female, and in the US and the UK) to gauge interest in the field.
CEBR provided data that quantified the potential economic impact of more women in cyber, including the impact of equal pay. Finally, we interviewed cybersecurity professionals with diverse backgrounds, which provided invaluable context for this report.

Publically available third-party research was also used, with all sources listed in the downloadable PDF. Percentages may not always add up to 100% due to rounding.