We Need More Women Mentors For a More Complete Cybersecurity Workforce
By Sivan Tehila, Director of Solution Architecture at Perimeter 81
It seems like everyone wants to get into the field of cybersecurity. However, this isn’t the case for women. The cybersecurity industry needs to rethink how to attract more women into the talent pool to bring more order into the gender balance. Research from Cybersecurity Ventures shows that today women make up only 20% of the cybersecurity workforce. When it comes to recruiting women into the workforce, cybersecurity is clearly one of the worst industries for women to men ratios.
The lack of women in the cybersecurity workforce is diminishing the opportunities to fill out security positions.
The question is: how can the security industry successfully improve and increase the hiring of women in security? While there are many different challenges that women face in the security industry, I am here to highlight the different ways the security industry can improve their numbers of women in security moving forward.
Starting at a Young Age
The ongoing issue behind the massive gap between women and men in cybersecurity is starting from an initial perception of education at a young age. Until recently, women were not publicly shown as tech or security experts. Girls are being exposed to this idea at a very young age, and this vision and career choice continue with them when deciding which career they choose.
According to a study by Kaspersky Lab, 45% of young women are not aware of the different cybersecurity career opportunities and one in six women thinks that a career in cybersecurity would be dull. The study even states that “a third of young women think that cybersecurity professionals are ‘geeks’ and a quarter think they are ‘nerds.’”
Introducing young women to the numerous STEM topics can provide a spark of interest for potential career paths early on. In order to increase the number of women entering the security fields, there needs to be an industry-accepted shift when it comes to women in security. Additionally, it is important to expose women of all ages to positive female role models from within cybersecurity and similar fields in order to change the way they are perceived.
A Career in Cyber Comes with Benefits
The first step to increase women in security is to emphasize all the different benefits and pluses that come with a career in cybersecurity. By joining the cybersecurity field, there are endless benefits that come with the job, such as job security, high pay, scholarships, and incentives. While there are thousands of cybersecurity jobs needed to be filled, the industry is seeing organizations seeking diversity in their workplaces, which is presenting more women to be hired in these positions. Due to the demand for skilled security people, pay for a career in cybersecurity is very high when compared to different industries.
Another major reason why women should shift left and join the cybersecurity space is that it is a field that is challenging and intriguing. The cybersecurity space is constantly changing and evolving, providing the opportunity to learn and experience different sectors that are not available or do not exist within other fields and career choices.
This career path allows women to be captivated by the always-changing work lifestyle, which presents different junctures where women can provide their expertise in decision making and strategizing, which will go a long way for their company. While in the end, everyone who works in cybersecurity plays a key role in fighting against cyberattacks - one thing is clear, the industry needs more women and the skills they offer. These different career benefits and motivations will encourage women to take an interest in learning more about the field and choose a career in cybersecurity.
Team Diversity is Necessary & Beneficial
Gender diversity in the workplace is proven to increase performance and turn higher profits. The reason for this is that men and women have different ideas, insights, and perspectives, which gives teams a more balanced attitude and varied approach to problem-solving.
Additionally, many women can feel intimidated breaking into a field that is male-dominated. Seeing other women on the team and in the office will encourage more women to apply and join the cybersecurity space. If women make up more than half of the world’s population, we should also make up at least half of the workforce.
Women Mentors Needed
While we are seeing an increase in women joining the cybersecurity field in the past few years, there is still a lack of women mentors in the field. According to a Kaspersky report, the majority of young women who work in security stated they rarely meet fellow women who work in the cybersecurity industry, and when they did meet women in the security workforce, it presented positive feedback on the industry.
So how can having female mentors in security bring more women into the field? Mentoring is important both from the point of view of helping to retain women in the industry, and attracting them to a career in security.
Publicizing different women security leaders and those upcoming in cybersecurity today as role models will encourage young women that cybersecurity is a potential career path. Organizations should take the time and effort to train and coach these role models so they can be mentors for younger women joining the organization and the industry. With the right mentorship and empowerment education, the cybersecurity industry can be one of the most intriguing career paths for women moving forward.
Cybersecurity can be the ideal career path for anyone with the right skills, experience, and drive. By providing the right mix of female mentors in security and educating women in different career opportunities, organizations can take part in closing the skills gap by actively improving gender diversity within the industry. No matter what type of background each person comes from, they can play a huge role in closing the women in security gap in cybersecurity.
On a personal note, I find working in cybersecurity exciting, challenging, and constantly evolving. I wake up every morning and go into work knowing that I am helping protect people and businesses’ important resources, as well as their privacy. I am constantly learning new things and developing new skills in a field that requires me to always be on my toes and keeps my mind engaged.
If you are a woman looking for a mentor or looking to join the industry and need advice, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/sivan-tehila/
About the Author
Sivan Tehila, Director of Solution Architecture at Perimeter 81, is a cyber and information security expert with 13 years of experience in cyber management, defense industries, and critical infrastructures. She is dedicated to promoting women in cybersecurity, having founded the Leading Cyber Ladies community in NYC and Cyber19w in Israel.