According PwC Global Digital Trust Insights 2022 SurveyCyber threats are now the number one risk for businesses in 2022. This was undoubtedly exacerbated by the pandemic, as the threat landscape and cybercrime continued to evolve as businesses transitioned to a more digital environment . At the same time, circumstances stemming from the pandemic have pushed many people out of the workforce to focus on personal and family matters, with women in particular leaving the workplace at higher rates than men.
In September 2020, when the academic year began with virtual school, more than a million Americans left their jobs, with women leaving the workforce at five times the rate of their male counterparts, according to department of labor data. In the traditionally male-dominated world of cyber security, only a fifth of the North American cyber workforce is female, down from nearly a third two years ago, according to the latest Cybersecurity Workforce Study of (ISC)².
This “shecession” identified in PwC Women at Work Index 2021 it was not caused by a lack of work or a reduction in demand for cybersecurity services, but rather by a lack of additional support for women, working mothers and caregivers. When schools closed at the start of the pandemic two years ago, many were left without childcare. The responsibility of being a vigilant it often falls disproportionately on the female shoulders.
While the demand for cybersecurity services continued to grow along with cybercrime, many women’s careers were put on hold so they could homeschool their children and/or care for family members. This presented a unique challenge in the cyber security industry and regressed progress for women in the cyber workforce.
With cyber talent shortage hitting record high in the US as job openings loom 600,000Losing women now is even more detrimental to the industry. This loss not only reverses progress towards gender equality, but can also slow economic growth in the process. The challenge we face now is learning how to win back those who dropped out of the workforce in the last two years, retain those who stayed, and attract female talent to the industry.
A move into the cyber security industry can be a lucrative move for experienced women in their careers, even if they are currently in different fields. Many women possess an analytical mindset, problem solving skills, perseverance, and a risk management mindset, so it should come as no surprise that more than a quarter of women in tech reach C-suite and executive-level positions. Upskilling on the job can help provide background knowledge that women coming from other industries may not have. When you create access to improvement opportunitiesand combine it with other transferable skills – the results can be impressive. Meeting women where they are and providing them with the training and support they need to advance their careers in cybersecurity is critical if we are to close the gap in the tech sector.
As we move into a different future, and with our children now physically back in school, it’s crucial that we don’t forget the lessons of the past two years.
We have found that flexible work hours are not only key to retaining women in the workforce, as demonstrated with The new ways of working at PwC, but it can also help women return to the workplace. One of the founding objectives of our firm the new equation was to embrace new flexible ways of working and strengthen our culture. Additional support from caregivers and the option to work remotely can help us recruit female leaders in the cybersecurity industry. At PwC, we offer a wide range of Benefits, including access to emergency child care back-up centers, because we understand how stressful no-shows or daycare closures can be. This can help reduce some of the stress felt by working parents and caregivers so that they can pursue their career goals.
As cyber threats continue to evolve, recruitment and retention must be a priority. Women are an asset to this industry and it is important that we attract and retain them in this field. Having seen rapid growth during the pandemic, the cyber industry holds many opportunities for women looking to return to the profession or even join for the first time. By encouraging women to enter the cyber workforce, we will move closer to gender parity and create a competitive industry.