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Women’s intuition: A female’s perspective in cybersecurity

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It’s no shock that it's an already understaffed industry, but it is worth noting that the cybersecurity division under the technology umbrella is a severely male-dominated profession. However, recent questions have surfaced – primarily, is the gender imbalance negatively impacting our digital safety?

Figures show that in the UK, women comprise of a mere 8 per cent of the cybersecurity workforce. Turning to the whole of Europe, the number drops down to 7 per cent. Research has further revealed that female workers earn an average of 15.5 per cent less than their male counterparts, which has brought to attention the repercussions it may have on our national cyber security.

“As cyber-attacks have become more creative, we need people who can see things in different ways and help us not be blindsided,” said Cyber Security Capital’s managing director, Jane Frankland, reminiscing her early days in her career when she “never noticed” the gender inequality and believed that “it was just normal”.

Data shows that only 11 per cent of women are represented and encompassed the global cybersecurity industry – a figure that has remained stable in the last five years.

Also the author of InSecurity: Why a Failure to Attract and Retain Women Is Making Us All Less Safe, Frankland firmly believes that diversity is a game-changer, and that women have the upper hand in the cybersecurity game.

“Women are far better at assessing odds than men, and this often manifests itself as an increased avoidance of risk. [Women’s] preference for detailed exploration makes them more attuned to changing patterns of behaviour – a skill needed for correctly identifying threats and protecting environments,” she continued.

Frankland’s observations have been substantiated by a number of studies, which claim that men and women gauge and handle risks in very different manners.

But paired with a difficult industry culture that favours men, an aggressive online community, and the lack of understanding that cybersecurity is actually an incredibly interdisciplinary and diverse profession rather than completely technical, women are likely to be put off from the industry before even sampling or considering it.

Indeed, as Frankland notes, “cybersecurity has an identity problem,” but it needs to be addressed immediately if the industry is to stay afloat amongst the rise of cyber-attacks and threats. “There’s a growth in this industry, which makes it even more of a requirement. We’re looking at a [1.8 million] deficit of skilled workers globally [by 2022],” says Frankland.

What with the exponentially growing number of vacancies and few skilled workers to fill the positions, efforts ought to be made to encourage women into cybersecurity to resolve the gender and understaffing issues – not simply for those working in the industry, but for the sake of national security.

About Lee Hazell

Lee Hazell is a cyber security consultant with a keen interest in anything tech or security related. Follow Lee on .

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