In the wake of 2017's major cyberattacks, including WannaCry and Nyetya, businesses are encouraged to pursue a broader cybersecurity workforce while "interest is still hot," according to Kaspersky Labs. Currently only 11% of the cybersecurity workforce is comprised of women, something the software vendor says could change in 2018.
About 62% of young women regard cybersecurity professionals as "highly intelligent," and 60% say those in the field are "skilled problem solvers," according to a Kaspersky survey of about 4,000 young people internationally.
However, because of a lack of female representation and exposure to the cybersecurity sector, resistance to a career in the field remains. Nearly 60% of women said they do not have substantial experience in computer coding while 45% of women said they simply did not know enough about the field to pursue a cybersecurity career, according to the report.
Until there is a more equal representation of women to men in the tech industry, reports on diversity, or lack of, will continue. Many girls and women are not exposed to the outlets that could illuminate cybersecurity and IT as a feasible career choice.
However, companies may be forced to look toward new pipelines to fill the expanding skills gap. By 2022, about 1.8 million cybersecurity jobs are expected to go unfilled due to a lack of properly skilled or trained candidates.
The deficit is in part due to security departments planning on expanding their workforce by 15%. To accommodate the rapid growth, HR departments will likely focus on more women and millennial candidates.
Creating interest in a field dominated by men is no easy feat, however some groups are working to inspire early interest in girls. The Girls Scouts launched a cybersecurity badge last year with a partnership with prominent female leaders in tech, like Ginni Rometty.
Lawmakers are also making headway in developing more robust and diversified computer science in K-12 curricula. But because districts are slow to adopt computer science courses, the burden falls on higher ed to attract candidates outside of the traditional, predominantly male pool.