The cybersecurity industry has continued to grow as a result of the ongoing pandemic, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The frequency of cyber-attacks is also increasing as new and innovative hacking methods impact organizations of all sizes. This threat is further worsened by a global cybersecurity skill gap, with companies grappling with unfilled cybersecurity. To address these risks, the skills gap must be closed.
Facilitating access and advancement for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and careers — including cybersecurity — is an effective strategy to quickly bridge this large skills gap. Attracting and retaining women in the field will not only help to close the gender gap over time, but it will also help to close the staffing deficit.
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Eliminating the bias
To do this, the world must first change its mindset regarding women in cybersecurity. Women are sometimes stereotyped as being not technical enough for STEM occupations, although this is far from the case.
There has been a paradigm shift in recent years, thanks to increasing emphasis and focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts by companies, as women leaders in the technology field have emerged, and more women are entering the cybersecurity industry.
Emphasis on STEM as a career path
To begin with, women must be encouraged to enter the field of cybersecurity at a young age, whether through school studies or university courses, by providing a variety of entry channels into the industry, or by making it simpler to return after a break. These obstacles must be addresses.
If organizations implemented a “return to work strategy,” it would substantially help women. This can help those who have taken a sabbatical from the industry in re-entering the workforce, and it does not necessarily confine them to certain roles. HR departments must improve their job descriptions to appeal to a wider audience, provide flexibility, and ensure that the recruitment pool is as diverse as possible.
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Cybersecurity remains a desirable and lucrative career path, but more should be done to guide female students in the proper direction and encourage those who are returning to work in STEM. As cybersecurity threats become more diverse, more diverse teams are required. Joining a gender-balanced cyber workforce is a great approach to prevent unconscious bias and develop a variety of solutions to challenging situations.
More investment and focus on STEM as a career path is the best way for progress. This will motivate both men and women, who will be treated equally and will be able to see themselves reflected in senior management teams.
The way forward
The World Economic Forum’s “The Global Risks Report 2021” emphasizes the importance of a robust and proactive cybersecurity strategy. Cybersecurity failure is among the biggest potential threats in the next ten years, according to the research. This comes at a time when, according to the 2020 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the cyber workforce gap is significant, comprising more than 3 million available jobs.
To defend organizations and individuals now and in the future, it’s high time to introduce additional voices, viewpoints, and diversity to cyberspace. This will necessitate a multi-pronged approach that includes highlighting the significant contributions of women in cyberspace, thus providing role models and examples; developing mentorship programs and opportunities at all levels, involving girls as early as elementary school and encouraging diverse career paths and experiences when entering the field.
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