There is still a long way to go in the quest for equal representation in cybersecurity. While Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are a important catalysts for discussions aimed at addressing the issue, we should not limit efforts to a limited time of the year. It’s a goal we should turn our attention to 365 days of the year.
Despite the need for more skilled professionals in an industry disproportionately impacted by the skills shortage, women remain significantly underrepresented. According to the ISC² Cybersecurity Workforce Study, women accounted for only 24% of the cybersecurity workforce in 2022.
In a market as large and fast-moving as cybersecurity, it defies logic to face the future with more than half of the population left behind. Further, the consideration shouldn’t stop at women but should encompass all underrepresented minorities with the goal of addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion across all organizations, sectors, and industries.
The importance of equal representation cannot be understated. Diversity of representation equals diversity of thought, and diversity of thought has been shown to lead to more innovation and increased profits for organizations.
The long-term resilience of businesses is intricately linked to their ability to embrace and harness the power of diversity. A diverse workforce breeds resiliency and leads to better outcomes as different ideas and perspectives are more frequently brought to the table. This helps identify new and innovative solutions to increasingly sophisticated threats.
Rubrik CEO, Bipul Sinha, noted during our recent Women in Cybersecurity: a Female Powerhouse Panel discussion that the volume, velocity, and variability of attacks are moving beyond human comprehension. As such, combating the threats will require variations in talent and thought. It stands to reason that our defense should be as diverse as the offense.
Unfortunately, in the typical educational journey, there aren’t enough avenues for people to enter the field of cybersecurity. Add to that the broader societal factor that associates STEM as inherently male, and from the very beginning, the pipeline is weak.
Equal representation in the field of STEM needs to be normalized. Visible representation is important because you can’t be what you can’t see. The Australian government’s State of STEM Gender Equity in 2022 found that women make up only 36% of enrolments in university STEM courses and a mere 16% of those enrolled in vocational STEM courses.
This is where we need to start. Not just in the form of addressing enrollment and education, but in shifting the colloquial. Gone should be the days of portraying men alone in advertising and media when it comes to cybersecurity. This subconsciously classifies cybersecurity as a male domain, and it must stop.
An important part of education is mentorship. Female talent can be both attracted and nurtured by mentors, leaders, and role models. Mentorship is a powerful tool for sharing knowledge and experiences to inspire others to become part of this growing and vital industry.
The solutions are there. What’s needed now is action.
To watch the full Women in Cybersecurity: a Female Powerhouse Panel, please visit: https://www.rubrik.com/lp/webinars/women-in-cybersecurity