There is a massive labor shortage in the cybersecurity field, which continues to grow at a record pace. In fact, according to Fortune, the global cybersecurity market is expected to reach $403 billion by 2027 thanks to a compound annual growth rate of almost 13% between 2020 and 2027.
As cyber crime intensifies in both scale and sophistication and our society becomes increasingly reliant on technology, the magnitude of this shortage is becoming more and more threatening, posing serious risk to the safety and security of individuals, corporations and the nation as a whole.
So how do we solve the labor shortage in the cybersecurity industry? One answer is to target underrepresented groups — such as women. According to Careerera, recent numbers indicate that only about 25% of the cybersecurity workforce are women.
Keep reading to learn why women should consider a career in cybersecurity and which organizations, scholarships and resources are available to help.
Why Are Women Underrepresented in Cybersecurity?
Women have been historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, all of which are closely related to cybersecurity. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women make up just 28% of the workforce in STEM with the gender gap “particularly high” in fields like computer science and engineering.
“Girls and women are systematically tracked away from science and math throughout their education, limiting their access, preparation and opportunities to go into these fields as adults,” explains AAUW.
The Harvard Gazette also cites two other major points that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in STEM — sexual harassment in male-dominated fields and the gender pay gap.
Increasing the Number of Women in Cybersecurity
Although there is no simple solution, there are concrete steps that companies, organizations, agencies and educational institutions can take to help increase the number of women in cybersecurity positions. Here are some examples:
- Foster a welcoming, inclusive community that does not tolerate any type of harassment. This should be standard practice, regardless of whether the business or organization is STEM-related.
- Pay professionals based on experience, knowledge and skills — not gender.
- Prioritize diversity, and encourage women to apply to open positions.
- Be visible and vocal. Businesses and organizations can work with local women’s organizations or STEM-related groups to bring awareness to the growing field of cybersecurity.
- Connect high school and college students with cybersecurity organizations and businesses. It’s safe to say that cybersecurity is typically not a major topic in high school and college education, which means that some young women (and men) may be missing out on this potential career path. But there’s a major opportunity for partnerships between businesses and organizations and high schools or universities. This could take the form of potential internships, appearances at career fairs, guest speakers or other options.
[FREE GUIDE] How to Secure an Entry-Level Cybersecurity Job >>
6 Reasons for Women to Consider a Career in Cybersecurity
Now let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons cybersecurity why women should consider this important field.
- Job Security
Because demand is far outpacing supply in the cybersecurity sector and cyber attacks aren’t going away anytime in the foreseeable future, job security in this sector is strong. If you’re looking for a reliable career with excellent job security and opportunity for growth, cybersecurity is the place to be.
- High Pay
Thanks in part to the extreme drought in cybersecurity talent and the skills required to work in the field, salaries in cybersecurity are high, and for the more advanced positions that typically require a master’s degree, the salaries almost double. Here’s a quick snapshot of common cybersecurity careers and average pay:
- Cybersecurity Analyst — $100,603
- Cybersecurity Consultant — $87,753
- Penetration and Vulnerability Tester — $101,231
- Cybersecurity Engineer — $105,349
- Cybersecurity Manager/Administrator — $101,802
- Cybersecurity Architect — $146,144
- Computer Network Architect — $120,520
- Scholarships and Incentives for Women
The good news — there are a lot of cybersecurity scholarships available, including many specifically aimed at attracting and promoting women in this field. Some of these scholarships and programs include:
- The SANS CyberTalent Women’s Immersion Academy
- The Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC)
- Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS)
- Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS)
- Women Techmakers Scholars Program
For a comprehensive list visit the NICCS Women and Minorities Webpage.
- Companies are Eagerly Seeking Women in Cybersecurity to Diversify Their Workforce
Corporations as well as governmental agencies have recognized the lack of diversity in the cybersecurity talent pool as well as in their own cybersecurity departments. In a recent Forbes article, product marketing expert Haseeb Tarqiq explains: “The diversity of a team is more than just the diversity of its members. It also includes diversity in leadership, diversity of work styles and diversity of backgrounds.” And according to BuiltIn, “diverse employees bring different skills, talents and lived experience to their work, boosting creativity and innovation.”
- Help Break Down Stereotypes and Advance Equality for Women
Women are sorely underrepresented in cybersecurity and often don’t see the occupation as a viable option due to a number of factors such as a lack of female role models within the industry, stereotyping and pay gaps. But in order to change the industry, women need to enter the field in higher numbers and work to remove stereotypes, demand equal pay and act as role models for other women hoping to enter the field.
- Make a Real Impact on Individual, Corporate and National Security
Many of today’s wars and crimes are increasingly committed online, and as such there is an urgent need for both women and men who have the technical skills and understanding required to combat persistent and malicious cyber attacks.
[FREE GUIDE] How to Secure an Entry-Level Cybersecurity Job >>
Groups Focused on Empowering Women in Cybersecurity
If you’re looking for more information, here are a handful of groups and organizations that are leading the way for women in cybersecurity:
Deemed a “cooperative for information security thought leadership,” SANS offers everything from training and certifications to scholarships, degree programs and helpful resources for cybersecurity professionals. This includes the Women’s Immersion Academy, which is 100% scholarship based and geared toward seniors in college, recent college graduates or career changers.
This program’s goal is to introduce cybersecurity to more girls at a young age. CybHER features extensive community outreach, a variety of scholarships and a week-long camp supported by the NSA.
WISP offers everything from workshops and leadership training to volunteering and networking opportunities. The organization also features a job board and a peer-to-peer mentoring program. Participants can register to serve as a potential privacy or security speaker, or you can request a speaker for an upcoming event.
This global nonprofit organization began in 2013 through a National Science Foundation grant and today has members from all over the world. Initiatives include virtual and in-person career fairs, skill development training programs, newsletter, an annual conference, market research, leadership summits, apprenticeships and internships and more.
A national nonprofit founded in 2012, WSC has a community of IT professionals, programmers, computer scientists and engineers — including many women who are interested in joining the world of cybersecurity. The organization offers training, leadership opportunities, conference passes, a career center and mentorship, among other resources.
The Future of Women in Cybersecurity
The field of cybersecurity is growing, including the number of women joining the ranks of skilled professionals ready to tackle the increasing problem of cyber crime. Here are some recent headlines that promise a brighter future for women in the field:
- In August 2022, women from across the United States joined leaders from the National Security Agency (NSA) and USCYBERCOM for the first-ever “Women Immersed in NSA Cybersecurity” event.
- Panda Security released an article detailing 12 Women in Cybersecurity Who Are Reshaping the Industry.
If you are a woman ready to enter the field of cybersecurity, consider preparing yourself with a dynamic, timely and mission-focused University of San Diego education. USD offers two master’s degree programs designed to elevate your cybersecurity career.
The Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership, which is 100% online, is ideal for professionals who are interested in gaining leadership skills and a deeper understanding of cybersecurity topics, theories and concepts.
USD’s Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering is geared toward those with an engineering background who aspire to become security engineers. Offered both online and in person, this program has been designated as a National Center for Academic Excellence.
If you’re interested in learning more about which USD cybersecurity master’s degree program may be the right fit for your career, contact an enrollment advisor today.