Women in Cybersecurity: Closing the Gender Gap
Cybersecurity career opportunities
Challenges for women in cybersecurity
- Gender bias: Researchers found some of the most common reasons why women do not pursue careers in cybersecurity is because of the gender gap, or the notion that some careers are specifically geared toward gender roles. Early on, computers were marketed toward boys and men, meaning public perception saw computer-related fields as the domain of men. That’s changing now.
- Gender disparity: Women working in cybersecurity fields have been the focus of conscious and unconscious workplace discrimination, studies show. In one study, 51% of respondents reported some form of discrimination and 87% felt the bias was unconscious.
- Sexual harassment: Like any industry, sexual harassment occurs too often in the cybersecurity field. However, thanks to efforts that promote women in computer-based workplaces by people like Jane Frankland, founder of the IN Security movement, more women now have an outlet to speak up and level an unfair playing field.
Moving women into cybersecurity
- Inclusive branding: Information security companies should avoid male-oriented language and military-inspired messaging that promotes a “boys’ club.”
- Mentoring: Both men and women can serve as mentors for new and rising cybersecurity specialists. Experts recommend mentorship programs that start on the college level.
- Better recruitment practices: In addition to reaching out to recruitment firms and college campuses, big businesses are taking part in female-oriented information tech conferences around the country.
Trailblazing women in cybersecurity
- Niloofar Howe: As the chief strategy officer for the cybersecurity firm RSA from 2015 to 2018, Howe has a long history as a venture capitalist, entrepreneur, and leader in the security market.
- Essye B. Miller: Currently retired from the U.S. Department of Defense’s deputy chief information officer for cybersecurity, Miller was the director of security for the Army chief information officer. She has also held various leadership roles in the U.S. Air Force.
- Angela McKay: As a former senior director of cybersecurity and strategy for Microsoft, McKay also served as an advisor to former President Barack Obama. As of 2021, she is Director of Emerging Threats and Risk Mitigation – Prevention at Google.