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Could Women Provide the Answer to the Lack of Cyber Security Talent?

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Despite being underrepresented in the world of cyber security, women actually hold a higher concentration of advanced degrees in information security, making them an untapped resource, a new study has found.

According to a report released by education and certification body for information security professionals (ISC)², in collaboration with Booz Allen Hamilton, organisations looking for cyber security professional to join their ranks should stray away from the stereotypical view that it needs to be a male candidate and instead consider recruiting women for the role.

The research states that while women only represent roughly 10 per cent of the information security workforce, they are quickly converging on men in terms of academic focus, computer science and engineering, and have a higher concentration of advanced degrees.

Entitled ‘Women in security: Wisely positioned for the future of InfoSec’, the report calls on data collected from the two most recent ‘Global information security workforce’ studies, which have responses from more than 14,000 industry workers.

It found that of the people currently plying their trade in the cyber security space, women boasted greater academic credentials; 58 per cent of the female respondents had either a master’s or doctorate degree, compared to just 47 per cent of men. Despite this, women’s average annual salary is purportedly 4.7 per cent lower than their male counterparts.

The report also found that the area where women were starting to have a greater impact is in governance, risk and compliance (GRC), with 20 per cent of women identifying GRC as their primary functional responsibility, compared with just 12.5 per cent of men holding similar positions.

(ISC)² chief executive David Shearer commented: “The information security field is expected to see a deficit of 1.5 million professionals by 2020 if we don’t take proactive measures to close the gap.

“Knowing this, it is rather frustrating to realise that we do not have more women working in the industry. Only 10 per cent of information security professionals are women, and that needs to change.”

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