Cybersecurity and Women

The facts speak for themselves...there are literally hundreds of thousands of unfilled cybersecurity positions, there is expected to be a shortfall of one million skilled cyber professionals by the end of the decade and add to those figures the fact that the average salary in the cybersecurity arena is north of 90k. However, we have these facts as well...women make up more than 50% of the American workforce, but occupy less than 25% of the positions in IT and less than 10% of the positions in the cybersecurity arena. The reasons for the paucity of women in the tech arena are complex but include traditional parenting, lack of a level playing field in education and few role models for young women. Researchers have offered potential solutions to these issues that will in the future increase female participation, but the one aspect that is often overlooked is the role that organizations have in retaining women once they are currently employed. Businesses need to face up to another fact...unless there is equal treatment of genders in the IT workplace, women will continue to leave the field, thereby increasing the vacant positions that an organization has. This in turn leads to increased training costs, increased workload for the remaining workers, and increasing the vulnerability of their digital systems to attack due to the lack of skilled employees. Recognizing that women are needed in IT and cybersecurity, organizations can stop the outflow of skilled female employees by creating equity in pay, eliminating bias in the workplace, creating equal opportunities for promotion, providing effective mentoring, developing a system for flex hours, and working to create an inclusive work environment. Organizations are desperate for skilled cyber professionals of any gender, and the need is going to greatly increase in the upcoming years. To meet those needs organizations are going to have to recruit and retain as many skilled workers as they can find and importantly they must remember that the keys on a computer don't care what gender fingers are on them. Dr. Jane LeClair, President Washington Center for Cybersecurity Research & Development

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