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. – Feb. 11, 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 Q2 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 (see list below) 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.

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.

List of Women in Cybersecurity Associations

  • The Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) is connecting, supporting, collaborating and inspiring
    women in security across Australia and abroad. Whether you are a security professional with years of experience or a student interested in pursuing a career in security, there is something for you in this group.
  • The Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) serves female executives in security, risk management and privacy. There’s no cyber in it’s name, but EWF has an impressive advisory board with women in cyber from organizations that include Carnegie Mellon University, Johnson & Johnson, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and Microsoft.
  • The League of Women in Cybersecurity (LoWiCyS) is a new non-profit organization, focused on helping to fill the CyberSecurity workforce gap by increasing the percentage of women in the field. Their most notable initiative areas are low cost, hands-on cybersecurity education, opportunities for real-world experience, workforce entry/reentry support, and mentoring.
  • She Secures is an online and offline community for women professionals and enthusiasts in cybersecurity. The organization’s overall aim is to actively grow their community of young African women to bridge the gender gap in cybersecurity; providing them a vibrant platform to learn, bond and thrive, whether as hobbyist or professionals in the field.
  • Women in Defense (WID) — started in 1979 — an affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), cultivates and supports the advancement and recognition of women in all aspects of national security — including cybersecurity. The WID Annual National Conference features keynote speakers from NASA, NSA, DHS, CyberCom and StratCom
  • Women in Security and Privacy (WISP) promotes development, advancement, and inclusion of women in the cybersecurity field. WISP’s calendar is an excellent resource providing a list of their own innovative events alongside other women in cyber events, and various security and hacker conferences in the U.S.
  • The co-founders of the Women’s Security Society (WSS) is a who’s who of UK women in cyber. WSS has more than 1,200 members from all over the UK, men as well as women, from across the spectrum of the security world. The organization provides networking, events, and career opportunities for its members.
  • Lisa Jiggetts is founder of the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC), a nonprofit for women in cyber. Cyberjutsu sounds like a martial art — and Jiggets is a 10th degree black belt with credentials that include MBA, CISSP, ECSA, C|EH, SCNP, MCSE, CCNA, SCSA, Network+, and A+. Her organization provides training, networking, mentorship, and a job board.

Girls Scouts of the USA

The list of women in cyber organizations would not be complete without the Girl Scouts of the USA.

One of the biggest recent tech stories is a new partnership between the Girl Scouts of the USA and Palo Alto Networks.

With the introduction of 18 new Cybersecurity badges, Girls Scouts of all ages will be able to explore opportunities in STEM while developing problem-solving and leadership skills.

Cybersecurity Ventures is honored to have our cybersecurity jobs research featured in the Girl Scouts of the USA and Palo Alto Networks official press releases announcing their collaboration.

According to our latest Cybersecurity Jobs Report, the worldwide deficit of qualified cybersecurity professionals will reach 3.5 million by 2021.

A deficit of this magnitude can inhibit the industry’s ability to prevent cyber breaches, and the challenge is compounded by the growing frequency and sophistication of cyber-attacks. Getting ahead of tomorrow’s threats requires a larger, diverse and innovative team of problem solvers.

With their announcement, Palo Alto Networks and GSUSA plan to introduce cybersecurity education to millions of girls across the United States through compelling programming designed to increase their interest and instill in them a valuable 21st century skillset.

This national effort is a huge step toward eliminating traditional barriers to industry access, such as gender and geography, and will target girls as young as five years old, helping to ensure that even the youngest girls have a foundation primed for future life and career success.

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

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