Leading the Way: Women In Cybersecurity

Grab a seat at our Live Virtual Roundtable: Female Trailblazers in Cybersecurity on August 25th at 1PM EDT!

ISA Cybersecurity Inc. in partnership with CyberArk and Tenable, is hosting a virtual roundtable that brings together leading women in cybersecurity to address today’s pressing industry issues by highlighting women’s vital roles through powerful stories. Register today!

No question, women in cybersecurity face unique challenges. But thanks to trail-blazing women and the leadership they’ve shown, progress is being made to break down the barriers to entering and thriving in this exciting field. In a 2017 report, cybersecurity training and certification firm (ISC)² estimated 11% of cybersecurity professionals were women. When the study was repeated in 2019 using revised research methods, (ISC)² reported that number had climbed to nearly one in four, to about 24%. While there’s a long way to go, women have made significant strides in the industry. And increasing the number of women in cyber is essential: there remains a significant shortage of cybersecurity talent, with a recent survey pegging the global shortfall at an estimated 4.07 million people. There are plenty of interesting, meaningful jobs out there right now.

The opportunities are there: the fact that a talent gap remains suggests other factors are hindering women in getting involved. Here are some of the top reasons, and what’s being done to help neutralize them.

Lack of knowledge and awareness of the industry: Through the efforts of trailblazers in cybersecurity, the mythology behind cybersecurity is slowly being dissolved. While the masculine terminology and the ubiquitous “shadowy bad guy figure in a hoodie” motif are still prevalent, women leaders are stepping forward to help develop a more inclusive image of the field. “At its core, cybersecurity is about protecting people from harm and, when someone is victimized, discovering who did it,” says Priscilla Moriuchi, former Director of Strategic Threat Development at Recorded Future and current Non-Resident Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. As the cybersecurity field evolves all the time, it provides a stimulating and interesting career that’s a perfect fit for people interested in problem-solving, and continuously learning and growing. Promoting our trade in these more supportive, less alienating ways may help attract more women to participate.

Lack of career development paths and required skills: This issue is being addressed by developing stronger school programs. For example, more and more Canadian universities and colleges are offering courses specifically focused at cybersecurity – one of the leaders is the University of Guelph’s Master of Cybersecurity and Threat Intelligence program. Beyond formal academia, a wealth of online resources and remote learning opportunities are being developed for general knowledge and professional certifications. According to the (ISC)² survey, most cybersecurity professionals expect training and resource budgets to increase, which is encouraging news for those wanting to stay current in our ever-changing field. A majority of survey respondents confirm that they find on-the-job experience and certifications are essential to success in the trade.

Lack of flexible work/life arrangements: One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many men and women were obliged to work from home, opening many eyes to the significant challenges of balancing home and work lives. As businesses explore what the “new normal” looks like, it seems inevitable that leading organizations will provide better opportunities for ongoing work-from-home arrangements, time shifting, and other accommodations in work flexibility.

Lack of role models and support: WiCys, one of the leading organizations providing support and resources for women in cybersecurity, supports a mentorship matching service for members. In Canada, the Women CyberSecurity Society (WCS2) provides a mentorship cohort as well. And we’ve seen the growth and evolution of numerous other support and interest groups: Cybersecurity Ventures has published a comprehensive list of international support organizations and social media thought leaders for women. Meanwhile, Comparitech has developed a list of 35 initiatives to encourage female participation in cybersecurity. There is clear recognition that support is important, and the trailblazers are responding.

However, despite these encouraging efforts, some statistics remain troubling. According to a press release from (ISC)², women face discrimination twice as much as their male counterparts, and attract a salary only 80% of men’s. Work still needs to be done – from a grassroots level right through to government legislation – to champion change from a human resources/pay equity perspective.

ISA is doing our part to continue the conversation and encourage more women to explore cybersecurity as a career. We actively support cybersecurity education and awareness to do our part to help fill the massive talent gap. And we’re pleased to see that more and more events are being scheduled to celebrate and encourage women in our field; in fact, one of our own team members was inducted into the IT World Canada Hall of Fame just last year.

Along these lines, we are delighted to announce our first-ever Female Trailblazers in Cybersecurity virtual roundtable, in which we will bring together leading women in cybersecurity to address today’s pressing industry issues by highlighting women’s vital roles through powerful stories. The panelists are all top executives at cybersecurity, technology, or industry firms – they are coming together to give attendees a unique insight into the rapid changes in our industry, discuss strategies for building your personal brand and engaging in the community, and share how they have helped make positive change to the cybersecurity landscape. Their experiences will provide insights whether you’re still in school, just starting your professional career, or looking to move into the cybersecurity field.

We encourage everyone to participant and engage! Our free, interactive, 60-minute virtual roundtable is on August 25, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. Register for the LIVE Virtual Roundtable: Female Trailblazers in Cybersecurity today; even if you cannot attend live, all registrants will receive a link to the recorded presentation afterwards.

Interested in learning more? Three recent reports and studies offer fascinating insights into the challenges and opportunities for women in cyber. The
Women in Cybersecurity Report by (ISC)² presents insights and trends seen by women in the field. Women in Cybersecurity: Spanning the Career Life Cycle, a March 2020 white paper by the SANS organization, offers important insights into the key factors for success for women in cybersecurity. The Opportunity in Cybersecurity Report 2020 by Tessian also provides insights into the current attitudes about cybersecurity in its survey of 200 female cybersecurity professionals in the U.K. and the U.S.

Are you looking to be a trailblazer for women in cyber security? Dark Reading presents an excellent list of strategies you and your organization can consider in order to encourage and develop gender diversity in your cyber workforce.

Together we can make a difference!


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