In honor of Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate the role of women in the cybersecurity field! In an industry that’s been historically dominated by men, women are proving themselves both competent and capable in 21st century IT. Over the past several decades, the IT industry has experienced exponential growth. This rapid advancement in technology has brought with it a rapid advancement of security threats. In cybersecurity, recognizing and alleviating threats is everything, and these actions are executed most effectively with a diverse and well-qualified team.
The demand for a skilled and dynamic cybersecurity workforce has only grown and will not slow down anytime soon. Though women currently account for approximately 25% of the cybersecurity workforce, their contributions are more visible than ever, and we believe the labor gap will close as more and more women find their niche in the industry.
Cybersecurity World is Changing
Historically, IT roles have been portrayed as being held by “nerdy” males, hunched over their computers, furiously typing, in offices with no windows. But the faces of IT, and cybersecurity in particular, are changing! Now, it’s no longer the image of the “nerdy male” who is making things happen behind the scenes, it’s women from all walks of life, with backgrounds in business, HR, technology, and other seemingly unrelated fields.
It is becoming more obvious, as more complex challenges arise regarding security, that an equally complex approach must be taken toward mitigating risk and finding effective solutions. Being able to examine threats and risks from various perspectives is invaluable in solving the cyber challenges that continue to evolve. This is a wide-open door for women, whose perspectives are as diverse as their backgrounds.1
Support for women in cybersecurity is also growing, from initiatives designed to spark interest in technical education among college students, to professional mentoring, and everything in between. Solid and dedicated female role models in cybersecurity have greater visibility than any other time in history, and the strong emphasis on mentoring goes far in encouraging younger women to pursue technical careers.
Notable Organizations and Events
Here are some specific events and organizations that are promoting women in the field. Keep in mind, there are also many others serving to raise up and support women in cybersecurity.
- The National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC) serves to spark interest in technical education among college students, as well as connect them with mentors in their field of interest.2
- WiCyS (Women in Cybersecurity) offers community, collaboration, mentoring, networking, and professional development to both aspiring and working cybersecurity professionals.
- IT Security Guru, an online community, sponsors The Most Inspiring Women in Cyber, a yearly award highlighting nominees from around the world and their unique contributions to the field. Their profiles include a few words their nominators shared, as well as a snippet of advice nominees have for other women/girls considering entering the profession. The award is a powerful means of advancing both interest and credibility among women in the industry.
Tremendous strides are being made to increase the influence of women in technology overall. Women are rising to the top, albeit slowly, proving their prowess amongst their male colleagues. Though it’s true that cybersecurity continues to be dominated by males, women are making a significant impact and providing much-needed perspectives. There is more work to be done but the talent gap is visibly closing, and it is clear that everyone has something valuable to bring to the cybersecurity table!