How can we encourage more women into cybersecurity?
‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ is a well-worn phrase when it comes to considering diversity and representation in different areas – and with good reason.
We believe that its important to start early in the campaign for encouraging more women into the sector. Beginning with education. A PWC study found that a hefty 78% of students couldn’t name a single famous female working in technology, and just 16% of female students had a career in technology suggested to them (the figure was twice as high amongst male students).
We need, then, a multi-pronged strategy. We need to elevate more women within the cybersecurity industry, supporting and encouraging them to rise to leadership positions – and we need to ensure that this elevation is made visible to women earlier on in their careers, as well as those still in education.
Inspire and thrive
There are a number of great initiatives for girls in education to help inspire them into a career in tech and cybersecurity including WISE Initiative and of course, Girls Who Code.
When considering women in the workplace and elevating women into leadership positions, this depends on encouraging solid female talent into the industry in the first place – since the managers and leaders of tomorrow are the graduates and juniors of today.
Cybersecurity needs to be positioned, therefore, as an attractive career for women who are studying or early on in their careers. Employers can always do more in terms of partnering with colleges and universities and running events which demystify the industry and set out the incredible variety of careers within cybersecurity.
There is also an important role for employers when it comes to nurturing and supporting those women to remain in cybersecurity throughout their careers, developing their skills and taking on ever-greater responsibility. As outlined above, women in cybersecurity actually seem to be more successful than their male colleagues at rising to managerial and leadership positions – if they remain in the industry. This means not only offering tailored training and development, but also listening to what employees are actually saying they need.
Celebrate and communicate
Visibility can be achieved in many different ways. Consider the recent RSA Conference in San Francisco, the world’s largest cybersecurity event with more than 40,000 attendees and 740 speakers. 46% of all keynote speakers were women, a huge improvement on just a few years ago and a fantastic means of showing to the entire industry how women can build hugely successful and influential careers in cybersecurity. On a more local level, female-only networking events and mentoring schemes have already proven hugely powerful.
After all, women in cybersecurity can be a huge asset. Attracting them into this most diverse, dynamic and rewarding of careers – and helping them to forge paths of success and innovation – is something we can all be part of.