The Importance of Bridging the Gender Gap in Cybersecurity
The cybersecurity industry is growing at a rapid pace. According to a Mordor Intelligence (2021) report, the cybersecurity market is expected to be valued at over USD 317 billion by 2027. As cyberattacks increase, so does the demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals.
Despite this booming demand for cybersecurity specialists, however, the industry is experiencing a skills gap that makes it challenging for companies to hire the right people for specific job roles. In a recent survey by Fortinet (2022), 60% of business leaders reported that their organization struggled with recruiting cybersecurity talent.
To address this talent shortage, it’s essential for organizations to bridge the gender gap in cybersecurity. Women represented just a quarter of the global cybersecurity workforce by the end of 2021, according to predictions from Cybersecurity Ventures (2021).
Why Join the Cybersecurity Industry?
Information security is a promising industry with extensive career options and potential for growth. The job market is full of cybersecurity openings, with an expected 3.5 million unfilled positions by 2025 (Morgan, 2021).
Given the rapid pace of digital transformations and the rise of technologies like the cloud and the Internet of Things, the need for security professionals is only expected to grow. The industry needs skilled talent to tackle mounting cybercrimes.
The fast-growing market also has benefits for job seekers. Cybersecurity positions offer competitive compensation due to the high demand from governments and corporations for skilled professionals to safeguard their data. Cybersecurity analysts, for example, make an average annual salary of USD 108,124 per year in the United States (Glassdoor, 2021), and security engineers earn an average of USD 133,265 (Salary.com, 2022).
Challenges Faced by Women in Cybersecurity
In recent years, a global education movement has emerged to promote women’s involvement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). However, while the gender gap in some STEM fields has decreased, the imbalance in cybersecurity has continued. Research by Eskenzi PR and Marketing found that women account for only 16% of management positions in cybersecurity and just 10% of board positions (Fearn, 2021).
Understanding the unique challenges female cybersecurity professionals face is essential if organizations are to bridge the gender gap. Recent studies, surveys, and reports suggest that gender discrimination, including both conscious and unconscious bias, remains a significant challenge for women in cybersecurity.
Several studies have been conducted on the challenges faced by women in cybersecurity and their underrepresentation in the industry. In a 2017 study by Frost & Sullivan, 51% of women reported various forms of discrimination in the cyber industry, 87% reported personally experiencing unconscious discrimination, and 53% felt that there had been an unexplained delay in advancing their careers.
More recent research commissioned by Microsoft Security had similarly disheartening findings (Jakkal, 2022). In that survey, only 44% of female respondents felt that they were adequately represented in the cybersecurity industry, and over half said that “gender bias in the industry…results in unequal pay and support.”
How to Address the Gender Gap in Cybersecurity
To ensure gender equality in the cybersecurity industry, it’s important for organizations to take active steps to address these challenges.
Companies should adopt organization-wide diversity and antidiscrimination policies. This means (for example) encouraging hiring managers to interview all qualified candidates regardless of gender and providing female employees with the same opportunities for promotions, training, and raises as their male counterparts.
Other steps the cybersecurity sector can take to address gender inequality include:
- Increasing access to cybersecurity programs for women in high school and college
- Promoting inclusivity and leadership development programs
- Ensuring equal pay for men and women with the same amount of education and experience
There are also various professional organizations and communities for female cybersecurity professionals, like Women in Cybersecurity and Elevate, a community for women leaders in cybersecurity. In addition to networking events that give women in cybersecurity the chance to meet peers and mentors in the field, these organizations often offer professional development opportunities and ongoing education.
EC-Council University’s Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship
Are you ready to enter the world of cybersecurity? EC-Council University (ECCU) is a 100% online, fully accredited institution that offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in cybersecurity. You can complete your degree in less than 2 years at your own pace, allowing you to take the next step toward your future.
Recognizing the significant gender gap in the cybersecurity industry, ECCU created the Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship, awarded by ECCU President Lata Bavisi, a leader in cybersecurity education. All women are encouraged to apply for this scholarship, valued at USD 2,000 (or up to USD 2,500 under special circumstances).
The scholarship can be used toward the Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security (BSCS) or Master of Science in Cyber Security (MSCS) degrees at ECCU. It is designed to help aspiring and current female undergraduate and graduate students reach their career goals by providing tuition assistance. For more information about this scholarship, visit https://www.eccu.edu/women-in-cybersecurity-scholarship.
Admissions are ongoing, and our next term begins July 4, 2022.
Cybersecurity Ventures. (2021, April 20). Women hold 25 percent of cybersecurity jobs globally in 2021 [Press release]. https://www.einpresswire.com/article/538895504/women-hold-25-percent-of-cybersecurity-jobs-globally-in-2021
Fearn, A. (2021, August 3). Women hold only ten per cent of board positions in top cybersecurity companies. WeAreTechWomen. https://wearetechwomen.com/women-hold-only-ten-per-cent-of-board-positions-in-top-cybersecurity-companies
Fortinet. (2022). 2022 cybersecurity skills gap: Global research report. https://www.fortinet.com/content/dam/fortinet/assets/reports/report-2022-skills-gap-survey.pdf
Frost & Sullivan. (2017). 2017 global information security workforce study: Women in cybersecurity. https://www.microsoft.com/security/blog/2022/03/08/2-5-million-plus-cybersecurity-jobs-are-open-women-can-fill-them/
Glassdoor. (2021, December 13). Cyber security analyst salaries. https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/cyber-security-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,22.htm
Jakkal, V. (2022, March 8). 2.5 million-plus cybersecurity jobs are open—women can fill them. Microsoft Security.
Mordor Intelligence. (2021). Cybersecurity market: Growth, trends, COVID-19 impact, and forecasts (2022–2027). https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/cyber-security-market
Morgan, S. (2021, November 9). Cybersecurity jobs report: 3.5 million openings in 2025. Cybercrime Magazine. https://cybersecurityventures.com/jobs/
Salary.com. (2022, May 27). Security engineer salary. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/recruiting/security-engineer-salary