Women in Cybersecurity: Overcoming Bias and Advancing in the Field

Women in Cybersecurity: Overcoming Bias and Advancing in the Field

By Tabitha Wangechi

As technology continues to shape our daily lives, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated. It’s no secret that the female perspective on cybersecurity is the game changer, and having more women on tech and advocacy teams will enhance current cybersecurity efforts by a huge margin. Said Jane Kinyanjui, a Cyber advocacy and Policy Expert

Cybersecurity refers to the practice of protecting computer systems and networks from theft, damage, or unauthorized access. It is crucial to prevent cyber attacks, which compromise sensitive information, financial assets and even national security.

According to a recent report by the Center for Cybersecurity and Education, women account for only 24 % of the cybersecurity workforce. This is a worrying statistic, which highlights the urgent need for increased representation and support for women in cybersecurity.

According to Cynthia Chebet Rotich, a representative from the Cybersecurity Incident Response and Advocacy & Partnerships department at the Communications Authority of Kenya, the theme of this year's International Women's Day, "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality," emphasizes the crucial role of women in the digital space, particularly in the field of cybersecurity.

As she puts it, "cybersecurity is a key pillar" of the digital world, and it is essential to ensure that women have equal access to opportunities and resources in this area. By including women in the digital landscape, we can promote greater gender equality and help build a more inclusive, diverse, and secure online environment.

The Root Causes of Women’s Underrepresentation in Cybersecurity

Despite the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals, women remain underrepresented in this field. There are several reasons for this such as:

  1. The lack of sufficient female models and mentors in the industry. This makes it difficult for women to envision success in cybersecurity careers

  2. The existence of gender biases and discrimination in recruitment and promotion practices.

  3. The technical nature of cybersecurity may be frightening and discourage women from pursuing this field.

  4. The cybersecurity industry has a reputation for male-dominated occupation, which can create a hostile working environment for women and prevent them from entering or advancing in this area.

All these factors contribute to the current state of women in cybersecurity and highlight the challenges they face in entering and progressing in this field. However, it is important to note that there are many talented and qualified women working in the field of cybersecurity, who make a valuable contribution to the industry and open the way for future generations of women in the field of cybersecurity.

The Importance of Increasing Representation and Support for Women in Cybersecurity

Increasing representation and supporting women in the field of cybersecurity is not only a matter of fairness and equality, but also a practical need. Cybersecurity threats are becoming more complex, and different perspectives and experiences are crucial to the development of effective strategies for the protection of sensitive information, financial assets and national security. A diverse cybersecurity workforce will lead to more innovative and effective solutions to these challenges.

In addition, increased representation and support for women in cybersecurity will help address the current shortage of skilled personnel in this field. According to a recent study by (ISC)², there is currently a shortage of about 3 million cybersecurity professionals in the world, and this shortage is expected to increase in the coming years. It is clear that we need more women in cybersecurity to address this shortage and bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table.

Tips for Women Interested In Pursuing a Career in Cybersecurity

If you are interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity, here are some tips for you:

  • Start with the basics: Learn about cybersecurity fundamentals, such as networking, operating systems, and programming.

  • Seek out mentors and role models: Connect with other women in the field or find male allies on social media, especially LinkedIn.

  • Consider pursuing a degree or certification in cybersecurity: Many universities now offer cybersecurity programs, there are numerous fellowship programs, bootcamps and certifications available.

  • Participate in cybersecurity competitions and events: These are great opportunities to gain hands-on experience and build your network.

  • Stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in cybersecurity: This field is constantly evolving, so it's important to stay informed about the latest threats, technologies, and best practices.

  • Consider joining professional organizations for women in cybersecurity, such as Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) or the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP).

By following these tips and getting involved in the cybersecurity community, you can position yourself for success in this growing field.

Call to Action

In order to support greater gender equality and diversity in the field of cybersecurity, there are several actions we can take as individuals and as a community:

  • If you are a woman working in cybersecurity, consider volunteering your time to mentor young women and girls interested in cybersecurity.

  • Tech Institutions should build the capacity of women in the field and train more cyber analysts.

  • As a community, we should address the workforce shortage by increasing innovation and effectiveness in cybersecurity solutions

  • Let's promote diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity, and encourage more women to pursue careers in this field.

  • Finally, share this article with your network and encourage others to support women in cybersecurity.

Together, we can build a stronger and more secure future for all.