Women in cyber. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

Women Represent 20 Percent Of The Global Cybersecurity Workforce In 2019

Number of women in the cybersecurity field is recalculated and rising

Steve Morgan, Editor-in-Chief

Sausalito, Calif. – Mar. 13, 2019

Cyber has a gender problem, if our industry continues to regurgitate numbers from a 6-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 predicts that women will represent more than 20 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce by the end of 2019.

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.

We 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.

Women are participating in Australia’s cybersecurity workforce at much higher rates than the purported 11 percent global figure. The 2018 McAfee Cybersecurity Talent Study states that Australia’s cybersecurity workforce is 25 percent female.

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.

Forrester also predicts that the number of women CISOs at Fortune 500 companies will rise to 20 percent in 2019, compared with 13 percent in 2017. This is consistent with new research from Boardroom Insiders which states that 20 percent of Fortune 500 global chief information officers (CIOs) are now women — the largest percentage ever.

The RSA Conference USA 2019 held recently in San Francisco — which is the world’s largest cybersecurity event with more than 40,000 people and 740 speakers — is another measuring stick for representation of women in our field. “At this year’s Conference 46 percent of all keynote speakers were women,” according to Sandra Toms, VP and curator, RSA Conference, in a blog she posted on the last day of this year’s event. “While RSAC keynotes saw near gender parity this year, women made up 32 percent of our overall speakers,” noted Toms.

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 the world’s open security positions, we’ll 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.

Can we all agree to disagree with the notion that the cybersecurity field hasn’t made any progress over the past 6 years and we’re still stuck at 11 percent of women in cybersecurity – when there are so many experienced analysts and data pointing to more female representation than ever before?


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

Go here to read all of my blogs and articles covering cybersecurity. Go here to send me story tips, feedback and suggestions.


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