According to a study by Kapersky Lab, 78 percent of women at the age of 15 ¾ in Europe, Israel, and the United States have decided against a career in cyber security.
Information Age, which reported on Kapersky Lab’s findings, found that there is a “perception problem” around cyber security careers, alongside the notion of women choosing a career path at such a young age. Both of these are making it tough for women to break into the cyber security space.
Information Age reports that many young women associate cyber security roles and terminology, such as “hacker,” as having a negative connotation, and does not appeal to them. Because of this, the findings state that two out of three women say “they want to pursue a career they are passionate about instead.” Similarly, the reports shows that young women consider cyber security professionals to be “geeks” and “nerds.”
Despite these struggles, Kapersky Lab is calling for more women to pave the way as role models for future female employees, and to more positively promote the cyber security industry. “Helping women to develop the right skills at an education level certainly has an important role to play in overcoming barriers to entry, and a lot of previous reports into STEM subject uptake have discussed this at length,” Adam Maskatiya, General Manager at Kaspersky Lab UK & Ireland told Information Age. “But we believe there’s also a need to change the industry’s image as a whole, and promote the careers within. An important part of that process is making the roles more visible and more enticing, and debunking the stereotype of IT security geeks sitting in a dark room hacking computers.”
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Decision makers who are involved in the hiring process can also shape women’s perception of the cyber security industry. For example, decision makers in higher education spaces can offer coding and programming learning opportunities in the cyber realm for female employees, such as degree programs, single classes, or even training sessions; business employers might be able to offer off-site training in coding, or take the time to highlight successful case studies of real world resolved cyber-attacks. Investing time and resources in the cybersecurity field can go a long way when it comes to attracting and keeping the attention of prospective female employees. Plus, once these employees are set up for a successful cyber-security role, they can continue to promote the industry in a positive light, and plant seeds in the minds of other up and coming female employees.
It may be a good idea for decision makers to increase awareness and support all employees working in the cyber security realm, hackers, identity thieves, and fake news propellers are working harder and smarter to obtain your institution’s or business’s sensitive data.