The number of women who work in the cyber security industry has been woefully low for years, but new efforts and studies show that females are permeating this field and helping it grow. In fact, the cyber security field is one where women can find exciting new opportunities for career paths.
“Many women love the idea of caring for and helping people. But some likely picture cyber security professionals as faceless men in basements furiously typing away — not making a meaningful difference in the world,” said Whitney Sizemore in an article at IBM’s SecurityIntelligence.com. “This picture is far from the truth: As a woman in cyber security, I genuinely feel like I get to put on a cape every day and play a small part in heroic efforts to fight cybercrime.”
The University of North Dakota offers women the opportunity to enter the cybersecurity industry with its online Master of Science in Cyber Security program. This affordable, top-ranked university offers a flexible schedule for people who work full-time and would like to earn their master’s degrees simultaneously. Graduates can go on to well-paying careers with excellent job security.
Defining Cyber Security
In the past, cybersecurity was another term for the information technology (IT) field, which was largely based at mid-sized and large corporations. As such, a widely quoted study from research firm Frost and Sullivan found that only 11% of the global cyber security workforce was female in 2013.
Now, however, the term includes the growing fields of internet security, medical device security, automotive cyber security, aviation cyber security, military cyber defense technology and others. And with new career options comes new interest from women and new efforts to encourage and support females in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that women will make up 20% of the global cyber security industry by the end of 2018.
Attracting Women to Cyber Security
Large companies such as IBM, Google and Facebook are actively recruiting women for cyber security positions because they know that diversity is a key to identifying and resolving threats to company systems and data. Unfortunately, large-scale breaches have become all too common with companies that are everyday names, such as eBay, Home Depot and Target.
Hiring for cyber security positions cannot keep up with the demand, which opens up many high-paying jobs for women who are qualified. The median salary in cyber security is about $93,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Experts predict there will be a shortage of 1.8 million cyber security employees by 2020. At the same time, the booming industry is expected to be worth $170 billion.
Industry leaders are taking steps to overcome the hurdles that may have prevented women from entering the cyber security realm. One initiative is creating welcoming educational opportunities, such as conferences, where attendees can learn from women who have succeeded in cyber security.
BAE Systems threat intelligence analysts Kirsten Ward and Saher Naumaan created the first cyber security conference in Europe to feature all female speakers.
“Events discussing ‘women in cyber security’ are incredibly important and have their place,” Naumaan told Forbes.com. “But women are also tired of being asked about what it’s like to be a woman in STEM. We want to give these women the opportunity to talk about their research and what they are knowledgeable about. We’re making it about their work, not about their gender.”
Other efforts focus on reaching young women. Middle-school girls can learn about the value of cyber security with daylong events hosted by IBM, and the Girls Go Cyberstart challenge is an online game designed to attract high-school girls to cyber security.
Successful Women in Cyber Security
Clearly, seeing and hearing from female role models in cyber security is a key factor in attracting more young women to the industry. Despite the low numbers of women overall in the cyber security workforce, there are quite a few standouts. Here is a look at what three leading female cyber security experts have accomplished.
Named a Top Woman in Cybersecurity in 2017 by CyberScoop, Ann Barron-DiCamillo is a recognized cyber security expert. She is currently the vice president of Cyber Threat Intelligence and Incident Response at American Express. Previously, Barron-DiCamillo was the director of the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) at the Department of Homeland Security, where she managed the round-the-clock operations to protect the country from cyber attacks.
Window Snyder joined Intel’s Platform Security Division as its chief security officer, vice president and general manager in July 2018. She is responsible for ensuring Intel’s security products are compatible with operating systems now and in the future. Her background includes similar positions at Fastly, Apple and the Mozilla Corporation after starting her career as a software engineer at Axent Technologies.
At prominent cyber security company RSA Security, Niloofar Howe is the chief strategy officer and senior vice president. She leads the overall RSA corporate strategy and development and works with clients of all sizes. Howe was previously the chief security officer at Endgame.
University of North Dakota’s Master of Science in Cyber Security degree
Women interested in a career in cyber security can join the University of North Dakota’s Master of Science in Cyber Security program. This program is accredited by the prestigious Higher Learning Commission, which is recognized by the United States Department of Education. It ranks alongside Stanford, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology as one of the Top 25 Most Innovative Schools. The Master of Science in Cyber Security program offers a general cyber security track as well as concentrations in Autonomous Systems Cyber Security, Cyber Security and Behavior, and Data Security in an online environment that complements the busy schedules of working professionals. Graduates are well-prepared to work in any area of cyber security.
For more information, visit UND’s online cyber security web page.
Women Represent 20 Percent Of The Global Cybersecurity Workforce In 2018 — Cybersecurity Ventures
Meet The Women Launching Europe’s First All-Female Cyber Security Conference — Forbes
Push for Progress: Empowering Women in Cybersecurity With Voice, Vision and Innovation — Security Intelligence
Jobs in cybersecurity are exploding. Why aren’t women in the picture? — NBC News
CyberScoop’s 2017 Top Women in Cybersecurity — Cyberscoop