Cybersecurity is a very unique and niche career however, with this is the shortfall of skilled workers. In comparison to other roles, cybersecurity roles see one of the largest gaps in its qualified workers; in 2021, it was estimated that there was a shortfall of around 3.5 million people. Cybersecurity also sees one of the biggest discrepancies in the female to male ratio in the workplace. In 2013, it was estimated that women in cyber security represent around 10% of the global cybersecurity workforce. Today this has improved and women now represent around 24%. This is still a huge shortfall from the desired 50% split.
As a woman myself working in cybersecurity, it is very noticeable. I have worked in many male-dominated environments, with IT being the most noticeable. However, once I embarked on my career as a woman in cybersecurity, I noticed an even bigger difference in the male to female ratio in the workplace. From my personal experience, I have found that there is a variety in the range of male ability. However, the very few women in the roles are usually exceptionally good at their jobs. They have very refined, polished skills and are very knowledgeable in their area of expertise. This is not to knock the males, but rather, women in cyber security probably feel they have to go the extra mile since they are a minority, they don’t want to make this worse by feeling they aren’t good or knowledgeable enough.
It was a similar situation throughout my education in IT. I have only ever been in a class with up to two women. Mostly I was the only one. I was very good at IT in school but wasn’t aware of cybersecurity career paths. It seemed like it was coding and wiring or nothing. I feel the lack of awareness of career paths definitely plays a role in the minority of women in cybersecurity.
Similarly, IT is also stereotypically a boys thing from a young age. Young boys who like video games are seen as being ‘into computers’. Generally, females are not into video games as much as boys, but this does not mean to say that they are not into IT. I know this first hand. My younger brother has always been heavy in his video gaming. The family was convinced he would work in IT. They were surprised when it turned out to be me, the person who has never touched a game, on the other hand, my brother has no interest whatsoever in IT.
The future for women in cyber security is massively growing, with senior roles being filled rapidly. With career routes such as apprenticeships to postgraduates, there is a wide range of paths that are now easily accessible for women to get into the industry. Over the next few years, women in the industry will increase massively in all departments including consultants and more senior roles. As the years go by, we see more of an equal ratio of men and women in the industry compared to years ago, back in 2013.
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