If you work in cyber security like I do, you’re probably aware of two major issues within the industry: 1) there’s a significant skills gap, and 2) there’s a lack of gender diversity. Now is the time to do something about it. Perhaps two problems can be solved with a single solution.
Currently, women are only about 25% of the global cybersecurity workforce and in North America, the gender gap is even worse, with a cybersecurity workforce that is only 14% female. a recent (ISC) two cybersecurity workforce report says “every area of cybersecurity is affected” by staff shortages. And the skills gap problem is not going to go away, as (ISC)two report also states that the The global cybersecurity workforce must expand by 65% to effectively defend organizations against the growing global threat landscape.
The solution to both problems is obvious, if not easy: train more women in cybersecurity and then hire them. Industry, along with society, must encourage women’s interest in cybersecurity by presenting them with a full picture of the opportunities available to them in technical and non-technical roles.
Non-profit organizations like WICYS (Women in Cybersecurity) offer resources for women looking to start, excel, or evolve their cybersecurity careers. WICYS has partnered with Fortinet to offer award-winning Network Security Expert (NSE) Certifications and training for members. This combined effort has the ultimate goal of preparing more women to help fill the cybersecurity skills gap. Through partnerships like these, along with training, more women can be attracted and recruited into the cybersecurity field.
Commitment to hiring women
All organizations should commit to bringing more women into the industry and keeping them engaged by investing in their career growth. There are numerous opportunities for women who may not have traditional IT backgrounds or career paths. Anyone with the right aptitude and attitude can become a cybersecurity expert and enjoy their role in protecting people and organizations from cybercriminals.
There are many roles in cybersecurity that are multidimensional and varied across specializations, organizations, and industries. Consequently, executives are realizing the importance of candidates having an expansive or even eclectic mix of skills, both technical and non-technical, to fill cybersecurity roles. Many women have a portfolio of skills and experiences that in the past would be considered non-traditional and not applicable to cybersecurity. Circumstances have changed and times demand that the cybersecurity industry expand its pool of candidates to those who can offer different perspectives and ways of thinking “outside the box.”
Women with no high-tech background but who want to give cybersecurity a try should be aware of the training resources available to them. Fortinet Training Institute The NSE Certification Program is one such resource. It is an eight-level training and certification program that includes a wide range of self-paced, instructor-led courses, including hands-on and experiential exercises.
I know I am not alone in believing that companies should confidently recruit and hire women for cybersecurity positions, even if candidates may have backgrounds and skills that are not typical cybersecurity professionals.
Skills that can be transferred
There are many common and uncommon skills that are transferable to cybersecurity jobs, including critical thinking, curiosity, and problem solving. The recent Cybersecurity Perception Study (ISC)² reveals that people who become cybersecurity professionals enter the industry through different pathways. More than half began their careers outside of information technology. Nearly 20% moved from unrelated occupations into unrelated industries. The remaining 30% is split evenly between getting through cybersecurity education and studying cybersecurity concepts independently. Therefore, I recommend that cybersecurity recruiters try to fill vacancies with candidates who may not have the “perfect” degrees and backgrounds. Cyber security hiring managers should be open to those with atypical experiences and resumes.
Job satisfaction and job security
Women considering careers should know that cyber security professionals have consistently expressed very high levels of job satisfaction. In a recent (ISC)two Workforce Report, more than three-quarters of cybersecurity professionals surveyed said they are satisfied or extremely satisfied with their jobs. In addition to being a “higher purpose” job (fighting cybercrime and making the Internet a safer place for organizations and individuals), cybersecurity jobs also pay well.
Because the need is so great and there are so many openings to fill, salaries for cybersecurity jobs are correspondingly high. However, joining the cybersecurity industry is not just about getting a good salary. It’s also about making an impact in society and being proud to be part of the army of “good people” trying to protect everyone’s digital life.
Clearly, women can play an important role in closing the cybersecurity skills gap. Hiring more women in cybersecurity has many benefits for organizations, including bringing diverse perspectives to bear on challenging issues. It is also clear that cybercrime is not going away. Threat actors are going to keep attacking and that means “job security” because the need for cybersecurity professionals isn’t going to go away either.
If the industry creates more opportunities for women to join and remain in the cybersecurity field, women will see cybersecurity as a viable career option, and then significant progress can be made in closing the skills gap in cybersecurity. cyber security and diversify the industry.
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