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Despite higher-than-average salaries, the opportunity to solve real-world problems, and unlimited growth potential, there’s a skills shortage in cybersecurity. There’s also a gender gap, with women making up less than a quarter of the workforce.
To better understand why, we conducted both quantitative and qualitative research.
We worked with the Centre for Economics and Business Research to analyze the economic impact of cybersecurity jobs, surveyed female cybersecurity professionals, and interviewed over a dozen practicioners about their experience.
We garnered economic and social insights into what’s preventing pepople from joining and, more importantly, what would encourage more people to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that are available for everyone.
After all, #TheFutureIsCyber
Closing the skills and gender gaps in the cybersecurity industry would have a big impact on the global economy. How big? If the number of women working in cybersecurity rose to equal that of men, we’d see a $30.4 billion boost to the industry’s economic contribution in the US and a £12.6 billion boost in the UK.
And, if women earned as much as their male counterparts, we’d see billions more pour in, with a further $12.7 billion added in the US and £4.4 billion in the UK.
While 66% of women, ranging in age from 16-55+, agree that there is a gender bias problem in the cybersecurity industry, the problem is more regional than generational with 82% of US women agreeing compared to just 49% of UK women.
The lack of gender balance isn’t actually one of the biggest challenges women currently working in the industry have faced.
Instead, women cite a lack of awareness or knowledge of the industry and a lack of clear career development paths as the biggest challenges, meaning a general demystification of the industry is required to encourage new entrants.
On top of 42% of respondents saying that the industry isn’t considered cool or exciting, women also believe more accurate perceptions of the industry in the media would encourage more women to explore cybersecurity roles.
This came first, beating out a more gender-balanced workforce, equal pay, and cybersecurity-specific school curriculums.
Preconceived notions about qualifications and culture mean that cybersecurity is often looked at as an unattractive or unobtainable option. But, according to cybersecurity professionals, the industry isn’t just for “tech people”.
The global cybersecurity market is booming, having grown 30x in the last 13 years*. That’s because cybersecurity professionals are solving real-world problems and are making a positive impact doing so. In fact, over half of those surveyed said that they joined because they believe cybersecurity is one of the most important industries today.
This isn’t just a key driver of new entrants though, it’s also a reason why those already in the industry stay in cybersecurity: 93% of women feel secure in their roles.
The field is constantly evolving, and necessarily so as data has become valuable currency. Cybersecurity professionals have to keep pace with – and stay ahead of – bad actors and new threats in order to protect businesses, people and data.
While innovation is at the heart of this industry, women in cybersecurity count IoT and securing devices and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) as the most important developments.
The cybersecurity industry – like all other industries – requires diversity to thrive. And we don’t just mean gender diversity. The field is wide open for a range of educational and professional backgrounds, from psychology majors to business analysts and just about everything in between.
Creativity and collaboration are as important as technical acumen and, today, there is no “stereotypical” cybersecurity professional. Don’t believe us? Read the profiles of each of our contributors.
Challenge perceptions, make an impact.