Cyber-Career Gender Gap Widens Significantly

Cyber-Career Gender Gap Widens Significantly

The gap between US young men and women who would consider a career devoted to Internet security is five times what it was a year ago, research has revealed.

The survey, from Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), shows that globally, the disinterest of young adults in cybersecurity careers is epidemic—especially among women, casting doubt on whether the future will see enough qualified professionals working to keep the Internet safe.

The annual study, Securing Our Future: Closing the Cyber Talent Gap, indicated that the widening gender gap among young adults oriented towards cybersecurity may signal that young women are being shut out.

“There will be serious implications for the world’s security, safety and economic stability if we don’t figure out how to foster a cybersecurity workforce capable of protecting our information from increasingly harmful cyber threats,” said Jack Harrington, vice president of cybersecurity and special missions for Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business. “We have our work cut out for us to encourage young adults to pursue this profession and to address the widening gender gap—particularly here in the US.”

Despite growing curiosity about cyber-careers, many young adults indicate their education and networking opportunities are not keeping pace with their needs. For example, only 60% of survey respondents say a computer was introduced to their classrooms by age nine. Additionally, women appear to be disadvantaged when it comes to networking opportunities, as men were twice as likely as women to have spoken with a cybersecurity professional, according to the study.

“Not only are we missing obvious [an] opportunity to remediate a global shortfall of cybersecurity workers, but we’re also seeing the problem compounded by leaving women behind when it comes to cybersecurity education, programs and careers,” said Valecia Maclin, program director of cybersecurity and special missions at Raytheon. “It’s critical that public and private partnerships focus on encouraging young girls to foster an interest in science, technology, engineering and math, so that more women are prepared to enter this burgeoning field and help create a diverse, talented workforce.”

Globally, 47% of men say they are aware of the typical range of responsibilities and job tasks involved in the cyber-profession, compared to only 33% of women. And, 62% of men and 75% of women said no secondary or high-school computer classes offered the skills to help them pursue a career in cybersecurity. Also, about half (52%) of women, compared to 39% of young men, said they felt no cybersecurity programs or activities were available to them.

In the US, 67% of men and 77% of women said no high school or secondary school teacher, guidance or career counselor ever mentioned the idea of a cybersecurity career.

“There seems to be latent interest in cyber careers, as half of young adults say believing in the mission of their employer is important and 63% say making money is important,” said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the NCSA. “Cybersecurity jobs offer a clear path to both—we just need to do a better job of spreading the word.”

Source: Information Security Magazine