As part of the IDG Contributor Network, I recently published an opinion on CSO online about finding practical solutions to make cybersecurity careers more appealing to women. Here’s an excerpt from that article:
For generations, there has always been a gender gap in multiple fields, but this gender gap is growing wider in technology. For example, Melinda Gates noted during this year’s Code Conference, “When I graduated 34% of undergraduates in computer science were women… we’re now down to 17%.”
If this problem sets off alarm bells for the technology industry as a whole, it should be a code-red alert for the cyber security industry where there are currently 1 million jobs unfilled. This problem is expected to get a lot worse before it starts to get any better; in 2019 there is predicted to be 1.5 million cyber security jobs unfilled. If we don’t tackle the cybersecurity gender gap then attracting and retaining cyber security talent is going to go from bad to worse and then stay there for a long, long time.
Brad Grossman at The Wall Street Journal ran a great article on the barriers that limit job opportunities for professional women in technology titled What the Gender Gap in Technology Gap Could Cost Us and I’d like to focus in on one specific point he made:
“Most firms fail to identify the ‘job acceptance criteria’ that professional women need to be met before they will accept an offer. If you don’t meet each of professional women’s needs in an offer, they will simply stay where they are. This becomes a problem because the standard offer is undoubtedly sculpted to the needs of average professional men. Not personalizing the offers will result in a higher percentage of rejections of the offers made to women.”
How do we attract female talent to the technology industry, and cyber security specifically? The answer lies with one word: Flexibility. The reality is that most companies fail to customize job offers to fit the unique concerns of women.