Critical Read

More work needed to get women in cyber jobs

Women in Tech  (Image: Shutterstock)

What: "The 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study: Women in Cybersecurity," a biennial study conducted by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education.

Why: Despite a booming public interest in cybersecurity, as well as a rising global demand for skilled IT professionals, women remain starkly underrepresented in tech fields.

Just 14 percent of the U.S. information security workforce are women. Worldwide, women make up just 11 percent of the cybersecurity workforce.

The study also found that men are four times more likely to hold executive-level positions than women, are nine times more likely to hold managerial positions and are paid more than women across the board -- despite a higher percentage of women entering the profession with higher education levels than their male colleagues do.

The report states that while the gender wage gap has decreased (but still exists) for upper-level executive roles, it has widened for non-managerial positions.

Additionally, the study found that just over half of women report various forms of discrimination in the cybersecurity workforce, and that "discrimination against women in cybersecurity in the Western hemisphere… becomes far more prevalent the higher a woman rises in an organization."

The report extols the positive impact of training, mentorship, sponsorship and leadership programs in making women feel more valued. Women whose employers provide these programs report higher levels of job satisfaction and report feeling more valued in their role than those who lack similar access.

The report does find reason for optimism, however. As more women pursue degrees in computer science, employers -- by creating inclusive work environments, increasing job satisfaction and ending pay inequity -- have the chance to both better represent women in their workplaces and cut into the growing gap between unfilled cyber positions and qualified professionals.

Verbatim: "What is clear is that enterprise and government efforts to attract and retain more women in the global cybersecurity profession have not made a meaningful impact. The stagnation of women's participation in the workforce is noteworthy because the workforce gap continues to grow… Attracting women to the profession across all regions has the potential to shrink the [projected cyber workforce gap of 1.8 million by 2022], but only if they can be hired, trained and retained in sufficient numbers."

Click here to read the full report.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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Reader comments

Mon, Mar 20, 2017

This is a joke. It is hard enough in government to hire any IT professionals, but ridiculously so for females in that realm, for one simple reason: Everyone wants to hire them, and we can't even come close to paying them enough. Companies are clawing all over each other to land them to meet their diversity goals, and we get crushed in government trying to compete. This is not to say they are not usually great professionals if you can get them. Is what it is.

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