Employ and Retain more women to fill the talent gap in cybersecurity

January 27, 2021

The significant rise in remote working hasn’t only increased the opportunities for hackers to exploit but has also heightened the need for more cybersecurity specialists.

More people are beginning to appreciate the importance of cybersecurity in the business world. According to non-profit organisation ISC, a specialist in cybersecurity training, over 3 million people are needed in the cybersecurity industry worldwide, with over 20% of businesses showing a shortage of available cybersecurity talent.

According to cybersecurity experts, the most feasible way to close this talent gap is to employ and retain more women into the industry. At present women make up approximately a quarter of employees in the cybersecurity industry. The cyber industry is historically a very male-dominated market. Some organisations have focused on involving women at a young age into the cyber industry to improve this trend. For example, the UK government introduced the CyberFirst Girls Competition back in 2017. The main challenge, however facing recruiters is retaining female employees. Emily Staph, cybersecurity leader for the US at PwC believes there is a lot of available talent out there, but businesses need to create a culture and the opportunities to ensure they keep women in the industry.

Aside from closing the talent gap, hiring and retaining women could support the further progression of cybersecurity in various ways. According to Ms Stapf, many women approach and think differently about business and balancing tasks and more importantly identifying potential threats. Cybersecurity group Attivo Networks is promoting the development of creative projects which could temporarily provide subsidies for female graduates or women looking to change careers. The program would enable women to gain valuable skills and experience that could lead to a career in cybersecurity. Industry experts believe the industry could be more welcoming to women, especially those willing to learn and progress in the industry.

The lack of available cybersecurity professionals, regardless of gender, is partly a result of businesses focusing on specific areas that drive revenue and pushing aside cybersecurity processes. Cybersecurity evolved as an added discipline of IT teams but has evolved into something critical for risk management in corporations, yet many businesses are yet to recognise this. A US-based survey by IBM security stated that cyberattacks cost targeted businesses an average of just under $4 million.

While businesses may recognise the need for a cybersecurity team, many believe that finding the ideal candidate is difficult because of the technical skills required and the necessary qualifications. Cybersecurity roles tend to offer secure and higher than average earning careers for those with the knowledge, experience and technical skillsets.

Despite a cut back in employment during 2020 due to the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, businesses are predicted to increase their spend on cyber teams this year. The last year has been pivotal in terms of the number of security incidents and the need to invest in new technology and the right staff. Industry experts predict a surge in hiring in cybersecurity throughout this year. The industry has evolved from its days of being a predominantly reactive technically-minded industry to an innovative and forward-thinking part of a business. As we experience a surge in cybersecurity, industry experts believe we will see more women move into the industry, facilitating the rising demand for new talent.

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