Cybersecurity's gender diversity struggles have roots in lack of interest, pay equity
- Women in the cybersecurity industry are outnumbered by and paid less than their male counterparts, according to an analysis from InfoSec Institute. The company, an information security training provider, cites a 2017 study showing that women make up just 11% of the cybersecurity workforce — the same rate of participation as in 2013, according to the study.
- A study from Kaspersky Lab found most young women in the U.S., Israel and Europe decide they don't want a cybersecurity career before age 16, and a 78% majority of young women in the study had never considered a cybersecurity career. Kaspersky Lab also found a third of young women view cybersecurity professionals as "geeks."
- At the same time, women in cybersecurity and similar tech-oriented fields have a high earning potential compared to other roles, InfoSec Institute said, citing a 2017 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research.
Technology's biggest players are increasingly pushing for diversity, but the industry is still beset by a number of structural obstacles. Even so, diversity and inclusion strategies have a positive impact on businesses.
A recent study from Catalyst found that hiring more women in the C-suite means a 34% higher return for shareholders. A Credit Suisse report similarly found that large-cap companies with at least one woman on the board outperformed other organizations by 26%. Other research efforts suggest at least a casual link between diversity-friendly policies and organizational innovation.
Cultures of harassment and discrimination undoubtedly play a role in the lack of functional diversity within the tech industry, but a more understated threat may be a lack of exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at an early age. In order to improve interest in cybersecurity and other fields, private sector employers have launched education initiatives and other partnerships.
Employers have an incentive to rebrand STEM careers into pathways that appeal to multiple demographics: Their talent pipelines are running thin.
- InfoSec Institute Women in Cybersecurity: More Credentials, Less Pay & Even Fewer Opportunities
- Credit Suisse Large-cap companies with at least one woman on the board have outperformed their peer group with no women on the-board by 26% over the last six years, according to a report by Credit Suisse Research Institute
- HR Dive NC State researchers find causal link between diversity and innovation