By 2021, the field of cyber security will have 3.5 million unfilled jobs, and the cost of global cyber crime will hit $6 trillion, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Job opportunities in cyber security are plentiful and sure to be financially rewarding, but are the opportunities equally lucrative for women?
To learn more, check out the infographic below created by the University of North Dakota’s Online Master of Science in Cyber Security program.
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The Talent Shortage
Women Constitute 48% of the American workforce, but only 14% of U.S. information security professionals. According to a PwC report, “Globally, men are four times more likely to hold cyber security C-suite and executive-level positions, and nine times more likely to hold managerial positions than women.”
According to the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study: Women in Cybersecurity, only 11% of cyber security positions are held by women. The report also reveals hefty discrimination; 51% of women report cyber security workforce discrimination, while 87% of women report unconscious discrimination. Furthermore, 54% of women report unexplained delays or denial in career advancement. 22% of women also experience “tokenism” in their cyber security roles.
Unfortunately, the 14% figure represents a high-water mark compared to the rest of the globe. The only non-North American region that reports a double-digit percentage of women as information security professionals is the Asia Pacific region, which checks in at 10%. It’s also reported that only one in ten of cyber security managers is female.
Level of Education
While a higher percentage of men hold computer and information science degrees or an undergraduate degree in engineering and engineering technologies than women, 51% of women in the cyber security field hold master’s degrees, compared to just 45% of men in the field. Despite this, there are four times as many men as women in C-level executive positions.
Challenges and Solutions for Women in Cyber Security
Men and women in cyber security face many of the same challenges: the threat of job outsourcing, the lack of standardized cyber terminology, and the threat of artificial intelligence (AI) replacing roles. However, women face additional challenges that deserves attention.
For instance, women are underrepresented in cyber security organizations, and may feel unwelcome at events attended by mostly men. Women in cyber security roles have also reported having to fight through an unconscious gender bias. Additionally, more women in executive and management positions are needed to mentor women pursuing high-level positions. Finally, it can be difficult for women to feel like equals in teams predominantly consisting of men.
Why the Cyber Security Workplace Needs Diversity
Women in cyber security bring greater diversity in perspectives, leadership and experiences necessary to fight cyber security criminals who have a variety of backgrounds. They also possess strong soft skills compared to men, which can help teams make better decisions and improve productivity. Additionally, they can help narrow the talent shortage.
Another key reason for cyber security workplace diversity has to do with he various entities the organizations are combating. Cyber criminals have a variety of backgrounds, and the cyber security workforce must welcome diversity to help decrease the risk of breaches.
How Leaders and Mangers Can Implement Actionable Solutions
There are several key solutions that cyber security leaders can deploy to increase diversity and narrow the field’s gender gap. Some of these solutions include increasing the transparency in compensation policies, conducting a pay gap analysis using a statistical approach, identifying areas of unconscious bias, and creating sponsorship, mentorship, and leadership development programs to support women across all organizational levels.
Cyber Security Jobs in High Demand
For women who push through the challenges and pursue a career in cyber security, there are several well-paying and rewarding positions to consider.
Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts monitor computer networks and systems for security breaches, conduct tests to identify system vulnerabilities, stay aware of information technology (IT) software advancements, install protection software, and develop security standards. The 2018 median pay for the position is $98,350.
Computer Network Architect
Computer Network Architects develop and build data communication networks, present recommendations to improve networks to management, upgrade software and hardware, and research the latest technologies to implement. The 2018 median pay for the profession is $109,020.
Computer and Information Research Scientist
Those in this profession assist scientists and engineers in solving complex computing problems, invent and advance methodologies to improve person-to-computer interaction, design and test ideas for software systems, and publish and share findings with industry professionals. The 2018 media pay for the position is $118,370.
Computer and Information Systems Manager
Professionals in this role oversee the work of IT teams, estimate the costs and benefits of IT-related projects, suggest upgrades to an organization’s computer systems, negotiate with vendors for technology services and systems, and oversee an organization’s IT security. The 2018 median pay for the position is $142,530.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, [and] difficulty.” Cyber security may be a challenging field for women to pursue, but the shortage of qualified professionals in the field is a great opportunity for women to get ahead.