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Breaking gender boundaries in cybersecurity: Why do we need to do more? Cybersecurity has become a focal point for the digital world this year in the amidst of COVID-19 which has led to many companies resorting to online platforms to continue work whilst in lockdown. Our recent video released earlier this month for ta
women in security work

Breaking gender boundaries in cybersecurity: Why do we need to do more?

July 26, 2020

Cybersecurity has become a focal point for the digital world this year in the amidst of COVID-19 which has led to many companies resorting to online platforms to continue work whilst in lockdown.

Our recent video released earlier this month for talkaboutit Tuesday saw QCS talking to Sarah Harvie. She managed to transition into cybersecurity for Merlin entertainment from a security receptionist position. Sarah has successfully managed to secure a head of information position with Merlin Entertainment.

The security industry overall has gained an increase in women fulfilling roles within the sector, however this doesn’t appear to be the same case with cybersecurity. A study conducted in 2017 found that in the US there are only “14% of women in the information security workforce” (Blobal Information Workforce study, 2017). There may be many factors which have contributed to this issue.

Normally jobs associated with science and technology sometimes might not be tailored to women. There are various barriers which might hinder women from applying to cybersecurity roles:

Gender-biased language

When looking at job descriptions for cybersecurity roles, the language and lexis chosen might not be gender-neutral which in turn discourages women from applying to cyber security positions.

‘Too technical’

There is also the skill set and misconception that cybersecurity roles are purely technical, for most part, the skills used in cybersecurity are more varied. Verbal, analytical, written and physical skills are still required to fulfil roles and tasks.

Lack of diversity in academic and training courses

Furthermore, academic and training courses linked to computer science and technology has more males dominating the fields which can discourage women from applying to roles if they are based in a male-dominant environment.

Women are not aware

There is also the case that the reason cybersecurity does not have as many female employees might just be linked to lack of awareness, if women aren’t informed or prompted to apply, how can we break the gender boundaries?

How do we encourage women to apply for cybersecurity positions?

A starting point would be to first gain attention and raise awareness of the roles available in cybersecurity. Using platforms which focus on employment for women as well as women’s networks would certainly encourage female applicants to take on roles and consider building a career within cybersecurity.

Careers talks and bringing current female employees into colleges, job fairs and universities would also promote gender diversity within the sector. Representation is something that encourages women to apply for these types of roles and feel less intimidated to approach organisations and companies who are in need of more employees.

Company collaborations

Cybersecurity companies have also collaborated with female networks to encourage girls in secondary schools to consider cybersecurity careers in the future, providing them with knowledge and insight into the industry. Similarly, industry groups have partnered with companies such as Microsoft and Palo Alto to gain recognition amongst female employees by providing them with sessions focused on cybersecurity . Provision of training programmes and workshops which target women enable them to be equipped with skills and gain industry insight into roles and which career paths it could lead them to. Introducing these strategies within mainstream curriculums and places of employment is a step in the right direction to breaking gender boundaries in the cybersecurity sector.

Cybersecurity being a hot topic in technology as well as the job market will see a growth in employees and companies focusing their services within this sector. But can more be done to break gender boundaries in cybersecurity which discourage some women from applying to roles?

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you are seeking employment in security or are an employer seeking candidates, please check out our job portal here.

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