Women in the Cyber Field
Cyber security is without a doubt a lucrative career choice. Good money, good benefits, job security, so why are so few women joining the field? These gender differences are not exclusive to cyber security or to the United States in general. A study conducted by 2020 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study shows that The highest percentage of women cybersecurity professionals are in Latin America, with 40%, while in North America it’s just 21%. The results in Europe and Asia-Pacific are at 23% and 30%.
As we know, cyber security is an umbrella that contains a wide variety of jobs within it, not everyone has to be a master at code. Cyber security requires other good qualities such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and more. All of these traits can help someone become successful in the field. Cyber security pays well partially due to the fact that there is a shortage of workers. The average base salary for a cybersecurity analyst ranges from $64,235 for entry-level positions to $112,984 for experienced pros.
So why arent women joining?
One reason why women do not join cyber is because of old stereotypes. Media, even to this day, perpetuates the idea that hackers are hooded men pecking on a keyboard all by themselves in a dark room. That lonely guy doesn’t look like someone you would want to know, much less copy his career choice.
The lack of representation and role models is a separate issue. There just aren’t enough women in the world of technology to look up to in the STEM field. It’s hard to do a job when you can’t imagine someone like yourself being there and doing it. Joining a field where no one can relate to you makes it extremely intimidating to maintain. Girls Who Code, a group founded to encourage women into the world of cyber, showed that although 74% of middle school girls express interest in STEM subjects, only 0.4% of high school girls choose to major in computer science.
As mentioned earlier, another misconception about cyber is that you need to be a God at coding and math in order to enter, and this simply isn’t the case. All you really need is the interest and a desire to learn new things and take on different skill sets. A sharp mind and creativity are essential, the rest is up to you. Women should not let stereotypes of the cyber field push them away from their passions or intimidate them into choosing a different career.
What does the future hold?
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are re-evaluating their career choices and finding new jobs, as well as going back to school to pursue passions. Labor shortages are everywhere from restaurants to high-level office jobs. Over the course of 2021, we saw an increase in resignations, as more people are looking for more flexibility, more money, and remote work. Overall– people aren’t happy.
Women can play a role in closing the gender gap in cyber security. If there is interest, there are free courses being offered through the Fortinet NSE training institute. If you are a woman and interested in cyber security, don’t wait! Never let anyone dissuade you from chasing your dreams, and be perseverant.
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