“In my cybersecurity career, some of the most talented people I have worked with, across multiple companies, have been women. And they’ve worked on various teams across the board, from sales and operations to marketing and HR – from executives to individual contributors to interns. I would love to see the gender discrepancy in our industry narrow. It will attract great talents and would be a great way to propel our industry forward.”Theo Nasser, CEO & Founder, Right-Hand Cybersecurity
We believe that women’s participation and representation in cyberspace is too low compared to the total women population. We are proud to say that 16% of our entire workforce is female. However, we aim to do better, and the whole cybersecurity industry could improve. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Women Participation In Cyberspace
Although (ICS)2 has surveyed and reported that women represented 25% of the cybersecurity workforce in 2018, this number should improve. Since 51% of the global population consists of women, it is a considerable gap.
Looking at the statistics, we see that this number has doubled since 2013, as there are companies that aim to increase women in cybersecurity and increase awareness of the topic governed by several cybersecurity associations.
Nevertheless, the low women’s participation in information security is more linked to ages of their earlier lower involvement in mathematics, engineering, and technology (STEM).
Statistics show that only 30% of the total working women in the United States are associated with engineering, sciences, and similar STEM fields. In addition to that, the representation of women in cybersecurity is low for the following five reasons:
- The societal view of information technology is that it is a job that men do. Despite the lack of evidence, there’s a similar predisposition in the cyberspace.
- Women are generally not presented with opportunities in fields related to IT. Therefore, unawareness plays a great role.
- The information security industry gives a potential impression that these jobs require only technical skills.
- Cybersecurity organizations fail to try and give women enough opportunities because of industry bias.
- Cybersecurity job ads are often gender-biased as they lack gender-neutral language and discourage women from applying.
Some Words From Women in Cybersecurity
During March, we connected to women who are leading the way in the cybersecurity industry, in several positions and levels. Here is what some of them have to say. Click on the images to expand.
What steps have we taken so far?
Women’s Inclusion in STEM is a challenge. However, despite women representing less than a quarter workforce in the cybersecurity industry, some of the industry’s most significant achievers have been women. Therefore, it is essential to provide the right opportunities to women and ensure gender diversity in cyberspace to keep moving forward.
“For us, a gender diverse workforce is crucial. This year, we set two milestones solely for increasing the women’s representation up to 25% of the entire team (up to 35% in the next 18 months). The intent is very clear, i.e., cybersecurity is a niche where we need to develop and groom the talent for tomorrow to see the industry rising.”Kunwar Sufyan Shahid, Director Human Resources, Right-Hand Cybersecurity
Sufyan furthers the conversation and talks about the hiring process at Right-Hand “Our hiring process is based on 100% merit, but we do realize having a fair representation from all communities separates the winning companies and products from the losing ones. So, we ensure that while hunting the best talent out there, we make ourselves and our opportunities accessible to the broadest group of people. “
He concludes by saying that if an organization’s talent pool lacks diversity, it has an adverse cultural impact and sets unhealthy success criteria for that organization. Right-Hand Cybersecurity is slowly and steadily working to bridge this gap and ensure up to 50% women representation by 2025.
“When we started Right-Hand, diversity and inclusion were more than just words for us. Our commitment to inclusion across gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, educational background, religion, ability, socioeconomic background, immigration statuses, and experiences has driven us forward every day.”Uzair Ahmed, CTO & Co-Founder, Right-Hand Cybersecurity
Women in cybersecurity currently represent less than one-quarter of the industry. “We strongly believe more women in the cybersecurity industry can help the industry bridge the shortage of cybersecurity talent,” says Theo Nasser.
“One thing that we realized was a serious shortage of the female workforce in cybersecurity compared to other industries. To bridge this gap, we have created a flexible culture so it can create a better working place for each gender. Currently, 16% of the Right-Hand workforce is females.” Uzair Ahmed added.
“I can’t say I have all the answers for how this can happen as an industry, but I think that CEOs and leaders of organizations both large and small play a role to help narrow the gap. From the stance of our organization at Right-Hand, we must always create an open and inclusive work environment where anyone feels comfortable at every stage of employment and engagement, starting with the application and interview process, hiring, and throughout their employment,” says Theo Nasser as we present him with the gender disparity facts across the cybersecurity industry.
He further defines women’s inclusion in the cybersecurity industry as “The Right Thing To Do.” He continues the conversation by saying, “Aside from adopting this mindset as the right thing to do, it also puts any company at a tremendous advantage to attract incredibly talented people to join the mission. I know the security industry still has some work to narrow that gender gap. For the macro trends to move in the right direction, individual companies need to understand their role.”
Unclogging the cyber talent pipeline will need more than just breaking stereotypes. Experts call for broader outreach to non-traditional applicants because some of the best cybersecurity talents do not come from a cyber background and experience.
Right-Hand Cybersecurity aims to increase the female workforce to 50% by providing healthy cyber opportunities to everyone regardless of gender, country, race, or religion. The cybersecurity industry needs to attract diverse talents and understand the variety of roles all these people play in raising security awareness, mitigating cyber risks, and helping themselves and others defend against cyberthreats.