A More Diverse Cyber Security Workforce Can Impact Profession

Posted by Kathleen Smith

Global Info Security Workforce StudyThink that cyber security will never fill the 1.8 million positions expected by 2022? That may not be true. The 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study, led by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, shows there’s a massive, untapped talent pool that has gone almost unnoticed.

Those with non-technical backgrounds and – surprisingly – women are among the often overlooked professionals that may well be qualified to fill the critical roles in and deepen the knowledge base within the profession. That’s according to the recently released report made available by Frost & Sullivan, a global research and consulting organization.

The analysis found that while 51 percent of women in the profession hold master’s degrees or higher. Only 45 percent of their male colleagues have master’s degrees or higher. Despite the education gap, only 11 percent of Information Security workers are women. That number has remained unchanged for several years.

Members of both genders reported workplace discrimination, but the frequency varied greatly between the sexes. More than half of the women respondents (51 percent) reported discrimination compared with 15 percent of their male counterparts.

The type of discrimination women reported was widespread. It included unconscious bias (87 percent), tokenism (22 percent) and career advancement delays or denials (29 percent).

The survey found 19 percent of the women respondents in the United States experienced overt discrimination.

The incidence of discrimination is not consistent throughout North America. Cyber security professionals in Canada and Mexico report significantly less discrimination than their U.S. counterparts.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Although North America employs the most women in cyber security as a proportion of the workforce, only 4 percent of women are in senior executive roles. Men in cyber security fare better, with 25 percent in senior executive roles.
  • Men in cyber security have significantly more undergraduate technical degrees (70 percent) than women (56 percent).
  • Millennials in the profession are closing the gender gap. Data show 52 percent of millennial women under the age of 29 who work in cyber security have computer science undergraduate degrees. However, women in higher professional roles, including management positions, have a variety of professional degrees. That contrasts with their male colleagues who overwhelmingly have engineering or computer science degrees.
  • The breakdown of degrees held by women in advanced or management roles: 31 percent computer and information sciences; 16 percent business; 7 percent social sciences and history; 5 percent humanities; 4 percent mathematics or general sciences; 3 percent biological or biomedical sciences; 3 percent communications, journalism or communication technologies; 2 percent psychology; 2 percent education; 2 percent health professions and related clinical sciences; 1 percent commerce or economics; 1 percent finance; and 1 percent visual or performing arts;
  • Women have consistently maintained an 11 percent penetration in the cyber security workforce; it is thought the homogenization of professional degrees between the genders will change that mix, but it’s too soon to predict when or how;
  • The wage gap for directors has narrowed to 3 percent between genders. The wage gap between managers is about 4 percent. Non-managers have a wage gap of 6 percent versus 4 percent in 2015.
  • More than a quarter of women, 28 percent, thought their opinions were not valued within the workplace. Those women were less likely to report positive training, sponsorship, mentorship or leadership development opportunities.
  • The higher the position held, the less valued women felt. More than half of the women who felt undervalued reported they would participate in career development programs if they were available.
  • Women earned significantly less than their male counterparts. The wage gap for managers was $4,630. Women in non-management roles earned about $5,000 less than their male colleagues.

The deeper applicant pool may allow cyber security experts to “identify and counteract known and unknown threats” thanks to various perspectives from a diverse workforce, reports the Denver Post.

“Different skill sets are becoming more valued in security instead of just having highly technical employees,” Robb Reck, chief information security officer at Ping Identity in Denver, told the Denver Post. “Anytime you can get diversity, you expand the overall perspective of a group.” Expanding the group perspective leads to much more effective security overall.





This entry was posted on Friday, April 21, 2017 1:55 pm

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