Women in cyber. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

Women Represent 20 Percent Of The Global Cybersecurity Workforce In 2018

Number of women in the cybersecurity field is recalculated and rising

Steve Morgan, Editor-in-Chief

Sausalito, Calif. – Jul. 21, 2018

Cyber has a gender problem, if our industry continues to regurgitate numbers from a 5-year-old report that states an alarmingly low percentage of women hold security positions.

Research firm Frost and Sullivan authored a report in 2013, which states that women make up 11 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce. The report is co-branded with (ISC)2 foundation, now a part of The Center for Cyber Safety and Education, and widely circulated in the media.

In the absence of any new research data published by another source, the 11 percent figure continues to show up in the media — despite a substantial rise in the number of women in the cybersecurity field — perpetuating the stigma of too few women in cybersecurity.

New research from Cybersecurity Ventures, due out in a Q4 2018 report, predicts that women represent more than 20 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce in 2018.

The 20 percent figure is still way too low, and our industry needs to continue pushing for more women in cyber. But, heightened awareness on the topic – led by numerous women in cyber associations and initiatives — has helped move the needle in a positive direction.

Our research includes a recalculation of women in cyber based on a broader definition of positions covered. We’ve evolved the roll call from traditional “IT security (a.k.a. Information security)” titles found mainly in mid-sized to large organizations, to the “cybersecurity” roles in a much larger and fast-growing industry.

IT security is in fact a subset of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity Ventures’ research looks beyond securing corporate networks (which has seen a rise in the number of women), and includes IoT security, IIoT and ICS security, medical device security, automotive cybersecurity, aviation cybersecurity, military cyber defense technology, and others. Further, the research covers the cybersecurity service provider ecosystem, which also includes women-owned small businesses, and broadens to include digital forensics and other jobs.

Finally, we will include Israel, the world’s second largest exporter of cyber technology (behind the U.S.), which bolsters an impressive and growing headcount of female cybersecurity founders and professionals. Fifteen percent of newly established cybersecurity teams (in Israel) in 2017 had a female founder, an increase from 5 percent the previous year, according to a TechCrunch story.

Cybersecurity Ventures isn’t the only research firm noticing an uptick of women in cybersecurity. Forrester Research analyst Stephanie Balaouras, who co-authored a recent report with fellow analyst Claire O’Malley, told DarkReading that she believes women now represent somewhere between 15-20 percent of the industry if you include security and risk, privacy, and compliance and audit functions.

Cybercrime will more than triple the number of job openings over the next 5 years. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2021. To fill those positions, we need to aim for 50 percent of women in cyber over the next decade. While some people may view that as an overly ambitious goal, it’s one that the cybersecurity industry must aim for.

An old school accounting of women in cybersecurity focuses mainly on ‘corporate IT security’ and excludes (or substantially limits) start-ups and companies with less than 500 employees, large swaths of risk, compliance and privacy, and other roles and concludes that women are barely represented in cyber – sending the wrong message to young girls that may be open to pursuing an education and future career in our field. It’s time to go new school on this topic – and send out a new and accurate message about the number of women in cybersecurity.


– Steve Morgan is founder and Editor-in-Chief at Cybersecurity Ventures.

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