There is no doubt about women being under-represented in the cybersecurity sector across the industries and regions.
Even though recent census results clearly indicating that women comprise around 45% of the working population across all professional industries, with 28% of the technology industry, as per the figures confirmed by ASIAL having numbers closer to 10% in the cybersecurity industry.
With the globe stuck in a state of unprecedented crisis at present, the cybersecurity industry has never been more prominent for assuring economic, personal, and national wellbeing. A diverse, unbiased, welcoming, and robust workforce with wide-ranging skills and experience is essential for providing safety, balance, and continuity to both the countries and industries at large.
There have been multiple steps to redress this – with a heightened focus on encouraging girls to engage in STEM programs throughout their schooling. However, certain issues are still witnessed to stand in the way women progress into the cybersecurity industry post-graduation.
While great initiatives are being undertaken with coding and robotics now in schools, and STEM programs are expected to drive more women towards more generalized technology jobs, there is minimum to no direct discussion about cyber security industries, as the designated pathways towards those careers remain uncertain and unclear. Yet, the dynamic cybersecurity industry assures abundant opportunities for freshly graduated students and even mid-career professionals.
The cybersecurity industry needs to do better to promote the host of stimulating and rewarding jobs. Most front-line security installers have entered the industry through the electrical trade, or as they were taught to lay cable in a certain capacity. Also, to some extent, as an industry, the cybersecurity space has not evolved through the perceptions from the days where this industry was built around the comparatively simple installation of monitors and cameras.
In today’s business world, interconnectivity is a must between software, cameras, access control, alarms and audio, analytics, and beyond. This makes for a rich and prospering industry – but there exists a knowledge gap about this in the wider business community.
Perhaps, people are not really aware of the richly diverse career paths, ranging across governments and industries – all available to professionally successful women via the cyber security vertical.
The cybersecurity industry also necessitates a lot of travel and face-to-face meetings. The assumption that women would generally be typecast in certain roles such as marketing or administration if they entered the cybersecurity industry, the companies are slowly witnessing more women performing diverse roles that require them to have a physical meeting with partners and customers.
In the case of an account manager or regional channel manager, this may involve travel across territories and states, or even between countries.
The dynamic specter of family engagement and motherhood also hangs large over female professionals. Frequent travel for work is undoubtedly one significant factor holding many women back from joining the cybersecurity industry. As any parent will attest, it is extremely challenging to be away from family, especially with children, but this is in no way shut down working women’s confidence across industries.
Heavy male-domination is another factor holding women back in the cybersecurity industry. The common issues under this include factors such as equal opportunities, a balanced workplace, and the gender pay gap.
One silver lining is the COVID-19 situation has turned to be the gateway towards more flexible working conditions. The majority of people are working from home, proving a new-found acceptance of virtual events and meetings.
The dynamic cybersecurity industry thrives on agility and flexibility. It also offers brilliant scope, pathways, and diversity to professional success, and there is certainly room for a higher proportion of women. Organizations must learn quickly to build new virtual workplace cultures and relationships while maintaining employee productivity and keeping interactions highly interesting.
The cybersecurity and technologies industry has all the tools it needs to lead the way in reshaping the new business normal. Businesses can start to level the gender playing field for a more inclusive, happier, productive, and more equal world.