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The Cybersecurity Future is Female

Posted by Donna Recchione on May 1, 2019 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights, Job Trends, IT, Candidate

There is new data from ISC (2) that’s shows younger women are making more money than they did in previous generations in the field of cybersecurity; however, overall there is still a gender pay gap.

Today, women make up approximately 24 percent of the workforce in the cybersecurity sector, which is a shift from the previous 11 percent number that’s been present for the past six or more years. However, the new data point revealed recently includes women in IT who have day to day jobs in various security responsibilities.

This year the ISC(2) survey data includes both men and women in IT jobs where a minimum of 25 percent of their total day encompasses security tasks and various issues to better reflect this job sector. What this means is that it’s challenging to ascertain from the latest ISC(2) data if there has been any type of significant growth for women cybersecurity professionals or if women who had non-cybersecurity related jobs had simply not been included in the past surveys conducted by ISC(2), as well as other organizations.

According to information from a Cybersecurity Ventures survey from last year, it’s estimated that women would account for more than 20 percent of the overall cybersecurity market by the conclusion of 2019.

Even though one-fourth is still a rather low ratio of women compared to men, the study has shown a clear female youth-movement in the security sector. In fact, millennial women now account for up to 45 percent of all women in the industry, compared to Millennial-age men, who currently make up about 33 percent of the gender sector. That’s a significant deviation from Generation X, which accounted for approximately 25 percent of women, as well as 44 percent of men working in cybersecurity.

The ISC(2) director of cybersecurity advocacy, Mary-Jo de Leeuw stated that the increase in younger women entering this field has stemmed from a cultural change, in addition to earlier exposure to technology, along with the new presence of women role models in the tech industry.

These individuals grew up in a digital world, and they come from a culture where access to the internet permeates their entire lives. This is information that has come from Leeuw, who is someone who has been actively involved in all types of organizations promoting various cybersecurity training and skills for both girls and women. Today, they are accustomed to being a part of all things cyber-related around them. This means they are also able to be a part of cybersecurity, as well as a part of the bigger digital world.

Now, both young girls and boys are being exposed to more tech related things at a much earlier age; however, cybersecurity education is still emerging today, with more and more opportunities in both the undergraduate and the graduate programs.

In the past, there wasn’t any type of education around in the cybersecurity arena – even at the college/university level. Instead, most experience in security came from the government, as well as niche backgrounds and roles.

Today, you will find programs, such as the new initiative for students in grades K through 12 called CyberPatriot. This program is designed to provide exposure and education in the cybersecurity field. It’s designed to reach people much younger than ever before.

While this is true, the gender pay gap hasn’t moved at all. Women are still making less than men in the same field overall. While approximately 30 percent of all men in the sector in the US make from $50,000 up to $99,999, only about 17 percent of all women do. A fifth of all men make over $100,000, while only 16 percent of women in the field do. Overall, women are making approximately $5,000 less than men who are in security management positions, which is information provided in the ISC(2) report mentioned above.

Only 10 percent of women from the baby boomer generation fell into the salary range of $50,000 to $90,000, compared to just 30 percent of men from the same generation. When it comes to Generation X, there’s a 12 percent gap between the men making between $50K and $99K, and 12 percent more men from the baby boomer generation made $100K than women in the same age group.

There’s no question that the next step in this process is to achieve equal pay for women and it’s something that is getting closer and closer.

What’s even more interesting is that more women are filling in some job positions that are at higher levels than men. In fact, seven percent of all women were chief technology officers, versus just two percent of men; while nine percent were vice presidents of IT, compared to just five percent of men. This is a trend that has been seen across a wide array of top positions in the cybersecurity and IT industry and much of this is attributed to the better educational opportunities available to those who are interested in going into this sector.

While all this is true, there’s still a rather large gender gap in the cybersecurity field. This is something that is being worked on and something that is becoming more and more important. In this field, with the demand growing, it’s more important than ever before.

Today is the day for women in cybersecurity. In fact, the field has its arms wide open for female applicants who are strongly encouraged to apply to top-tier cybersecurity positions. In today's job market, unemployment is at an all time low and companies are looking for the best talent, which has broadened the playing field for female applicants. 

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