Women in Cyber Security

Women in Cyber Security

Men outnumber women in cybersecurity by as much as three to one, according to ISC2. The tide is changing. More women are joining the field. Spurred on by the success of other women and opportunities for support, the industry is accessible to many. Women are entering all fields in the industry. That includes leadership positions at an increasing rate.

There’s evidence that women are earning higher levels of education in cybersecurity. They are also working to earn more certifications than men. And, there’s evidence, according to ISC2, that women in cybersecurity are asserting themselves within the industry. They are working to fight cyber attacks and manage cybercrime.

Female cybersecurity professionals find themselves in a wide range of positions. The field of cybersecurity continues to need trained professionals. Research from Deloitte shows by 2022 there could be a deficit of 1.8 million cyber security professionals in the world. This shortage of skilled workers in the industry is a key concern for many companies and government organizations who are facing increasing threats from cyber crime.

Could women fill the position? There’s ample evidence to suggest that may just be the case.

A Guide to Women in Cyber Security

Research indicates that encouraging more women to enter the field of cybersecurity may be one key way to reduce the skills shortage. To do that, many organizations are focused on moving women into leadership roles in the industry. This may help to improve gender diversity, reducing gender imbalance. It may also be necessary to work to create awareness to the field. Creating opportunities for women to get the support they need is also vital. More dialogue about the industry may also help.

Women may pursue a wide range of fields in this industry. That includes aiding with national security. It may include working as security experts in local companies. Increasing the talent pool may prove critical as more companies work to deepen the level of security they have in place due to increasing risks. With job board after job board with vacancies in some areas, it may be critical to change this gender gap.

What’s important to note may be this. Women are underrepresented in cybersecurity. Yet, new programs and opportunities continue to help change this curve. The work is not done. Education and insight into the industry may help other young girls and women pursue this path as well. How to make that happen remains the key question.

Overcoming the many challenges women face in the field is one component. That includes overcoming the current culture in the industry. Changes by top management in some fields may be necessary. In other cases, educational programs and supportive paths may help encourage women to remain in the field, bringing other women with them.

Why are women underrepresented in cybersecurity?

Stigma and a lack of education in the sciences could be key reasons why women are underrepresented in the industry. Many girls grow up thinking technology is a “boy thing.” There may also be a stigma that match and science are “boys subjects.” This type of experience may hinder some girls from showing interest in those fields. Research indicates both men and women may have innate abilities in both science and math. There’s simply no basis for the belief men are better at science.

A lack of role models may also play a role in this. With few women in technology, it may be hard to attract others to the field. With more women in these roles, it may attract more young girls to the science field. Over time, that may help those young women to enter into college degree programs in cybersecurity. That could open the door for new professional opportunities for themselves. Young girls form perceptions of their world at a young age. If they don’t see technology as an option for any reason, they may pursue other career paths later in life.

Another view on why women are underrepresented relates to a lack of understanding about what cybersecurity is. Cybersecurity often is seen as a high tech field. Cybersecurity professionals work in a wide range of fields. While it often does require tech skills, the job is typically not solely based on those skills. Numerous other skills may be necessary. That may include good verbal skills. It may also include problem solving skills. More so, there’s a stigma that cybersecurity is a job carried out in a war room type atmosphere. While that may be the case in some situations, it’s not in others.

What can be done to increase women in cybersecurity?

There are many opportunities available that may help increase the number of women in the cybersecurity industry. This may include creating new opportunities, getting more women into leadership positions, and educating women about the opportunities potentially available to them.

Increasing leadership in the industry

There are many beliefs about how to encourage women to enter cybersecurity professions. One way, recommended by ISC2 and Deloitte, among others, is to increase the number of women in leadership roles across the industry.

ISC2 states that there is evidence this is happening. ISC2 found, in a recent study from 2018, that more women cybersecurity professionals are taking leadership roles at a faster rate than men. Higher percentages of women are moving into roles such as:

  • Chief technology officer (7% of women compared to 2% of men)
  • Vice president of IT (9% of women compared to 5% of men)
  • IT director (18% of women compared to 14% of men)
  • C-level or executive positions (28% of women compared to 19% of men)

Women playing a bigger role in leadership could help to encourage more women to enter the field. There’s more. Women are increasingly becoming more educated in cybersecurity. The same study found that 44% of men in the field have a post graduate degree. The number of women who do is 52%. The survey surveyed a wide range of professionals. The largest percentage of survey participants were millennials. They made up 45% of the surveyed workforce. Of the Generation X people surveyed, 44% were men, and 25% were women.

Still, women make up just one quarter (about 24%) of all women working in overall workforce. As women grow in the field, this may help serve as role models for the next generation. It also may create more mentorship opportunities. Mentoring is vital to encouraging women to pursue many fields.

Increase access to STEM programs

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is a valuable educational path. It aims to provide valuable critical thinking skills for children from elementary on up. STEM programs may help increase gender diversity by incorporating more science, math, and technology education to both genders from an early age.

STEM education often allows students to take classes from all four areas. Then, they may use the information they receive to complete realistic, world-wide projects. This often starts at the elementary school level. This may allow more students to gain this type of education for longer periods of time. This may better prepare young people for a career in the field of technology. That could include cybersecurity.

By introducing both genders to STEM early on, it may be possible to encourage more women to enter the field. Simply, it may get more girls interested in what technology may offer to them. A STEM curriculum is often not the typical style of book learning. Rather, it usually offers more hands-on education and practical skill development. From elementary through high school girls, this could prove beneficial in creating the next generation.

Girl Scouts is even working to help support the move towards helping young girls to gain interest in STEM. They offer a Junior Cybersecurity Basics Badge. Encouraging communication about this field early on, may help to encourage more young women to pursue the field later. Other non-profit organizations may be able to help in the same type of manner.

Increase diversity as a whole

It may also be beneficial to create teams of diverse people working together to solve problems. That is not just men and women. It may include people from all backgrounds. It may also include people from all ethnicities. This may help more women to stay in the industry long term. It may also help to achieve more within the task at hand. That’s because it may offer numerous perspectives. It may help to spur innovation. Diversity like this may also increase creativity in the industry. That could be valuable when it comes to managing the ever-changing world of cybersecurity. The whole cybersecurity workforce may benefit from this change.

Development of professional organizations for women

Cybersecurity jobs may be attractive when women have opportunities to connect with others in the industry. A range of professional organizations aim to help this. Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) is helping to support the recruitment and retention of women in this industry. It also aims to help women to advance in leadership roles.

Another example of this is the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu (WSU) or the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management and Security (EWF). These organizations help with education. They may also help with supporting women’s issues in the field. This may be done through annual conventions. They may help inform and education through a range of media. That could include a webinar, seminar, or even video networking. These organization support work struggling to get into and stay in the field.

Scholarships and other assistance available to women

Scholarship and financial aim may offer another avenue of support. Financial aid may be available to students who qualify. Education could be a key to this career path. Creating a way for a young girl interested in science and math to pursue a higher education and degree in the field may be key. It may also be more readily possible with scholarship opportunities, especially for otherwise unrepresented people in field.

Financial support may be key, then, to developing a diverse workforce. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. These scholarships aim to help close the gender gap. They may be available for a wide range of cybersecurity careers. They could come from various sectors of the cybersecurity industry. Consider a few examples that may help you.

CEU Future of Big Data, Morgan Stanley, Women in Tech Scholarship

Scholarship Value: $12,000 one time scholarship, non renewable
Deadline: January 30

  • Minimum of a 3.0 GPA
  • Bachelor’s degree in a STEM field, or equivalent work experience
  • Minimum of 45 on the GMAT, or 154 on GRE
  • Application form
  • Personal statement

This scholarship is specific to women entering into a graduate program that is STEM related. Experience and relevant qualities are big considerations for this scholarship. This scholarship is non renewable.

Iyowun Memorial College Scholarship

Scholarship Value: $1,000 one time scholarship, non renewable
Deadline: December 12

  • College or University student in the United States
  • Major must be STEM related
  • Minimum of a 2.5 GPA
  • Essay
  • Official transcripts
  • Letter of recommendation

There are up to 10 $1,000 scholarships awarded for this program every year. This scholarship is for those students considering a STEM based program. This is a non renewable scholarship.

American Airlines Engineering Scholarship

Scholarship Value: This is a one time $5,000 scholarship per year, non renewable
Deadline: November 10

  • US Student
  • US Resident
  • Pursue a degree in Aeronautical, electrical or mechanical engineering
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Member of Women in Aviation, International
  • Application form
  • Resume
  • Essay
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Aviation professional documents

This scholarship is sponsored by American Airlines. Main sources of consideration are academics, personal accomplishments, and leadership skills. This is a one time non renewable scholarship.

Rae Lee Siporin Scholarship for Women

Scholarship Value: Three $1,500 scholarships awarded per year, non renewable
Deadline: June 6

  • US permanent resident
  • Resident of New Mexico
  • Incoming college senior
  • Full time student
  • Identify as female
  • Attend school in New Mexico
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Financial aid letter
  • Official transcript
  • Personal statement

This is a scholarship awarded to three students once a year. The students must be incoming seniors, female and residents of New Mexico. The scholarship is non renewable and has a large basis on financial need for the student.

P. O. Pistilli Scholarship

Scholarship Value: $20,000 one time scholarship award each year, non renewable
Deadline: April 23

  • US or international student
  • High school senior
  • US resident
  • Minimum of 3.0 GPA
  • Pursuing a career in Electrical engineering, computer engineering, or computer science
  • Plan to enroll full time
  • Member of one of the following: women, African American, Hispanic American, American Indian, or disabled
  • Application
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Tax return
  • Official transcript

This award is for any student who is a high school senior. The student must be a member of one of the following groups to be considered: women, African American, Hispanic American, American Indian, or disabled. This award is based primarily on financial need and academics. It is a non renewable scholarship with number of recipients varying by year.

LogicMonitor Women in STEM Scholarship

Scholarship Value:  One time $6,000 scholarship each year, non renewable
Deadline: March 31

  • Identify as a woman
  • Completed at least one year of college
  • Pursuing an undergraduate degree
  • Major in a STEM program
  • Personal information
  • Four short answer questions

This is a one time scholarship awarded to female STEM students. Students must have completes at least one year of college and be able to answer four short answer questions regarding themselves. This scholarship is non renewable.

Delta Air Lines Engineering Scholarship

Scholarship Value: $5,000 one time scholarship award per year, non renewable
Deadline: November 10

  • US Student
  • US Resident
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Member of Women in Aviation, International
  • Currently enrolled in an aerospace, aeronautical, electrical, or mechanical engineering program
  • College junior or senior with at least two semesters remaining
  • Two essays
  • Resume
  • Aviation licenses
  • Application
  • Two letters of recommendation

This is a one time scholarship that is awarded at the Annual International Women in Aviation Conference. Winners receive round trip airfare and hotel accommodations. This is a non renewable scholarship.

United Parcel Service Scholarship for Female Students

Scholarship Value: One time award of $4,000 per year, non renewable
Deadline: November 15

  • US or international student
  • College freshman or older
  • Pursuing a degree in industrial engineering
  • Member of Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineer local chapter
  • Be enrolled as a full time student
  • Identify as female
  • Minimum of 3.4 GPA
  • Attend school in US, Canada, or Mexico
  • Must be nominated by local chapter of Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineer

This scholarship is for women in college looking to pursue a career in industrial engineering. Students considered for this award must receive a nomination.

BHW Scholarship

Scholarship Value: One scholarship for $3,000 awarded each year, non renewable
Deadline: April 15

  • Must be female
  • Pursuing a major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics
  • Enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program
  • Essay
  • Application form

This is a one time non renewable scholarship for women pursuing a degree in a STEM related major. May be a student in either ungraduated or graduate school. The award is offered to one student per year

Hyundai Women in STEM Scholarship

Scholarship Value: There are five $10,000 scholarships awarded each year, non renewable
Deadline: June 30

  • Legal US resident
  • High school senior of undergraduate
  • Identify as female
  • Pursue a STEM field
  • Essay
  • Personal statement

This scholarship is available to high school seniors and eligible college undergraduates. Students must write a 500 word essay on why they are choosing a STEM related field. This scholarship is non renewable and is only for those who identify as female.

Women as a role models in cybersecurity – Consider These Women in Cybersecurity

Women remain underrepresented in the cyber security field. That remains true. Yet, the more women that become involved in it, and talk about their presence and work, the more likely it is for others women to be interested in following their path. There are many examples of powerful women in cybersecurity. Here are a few key examples.

Dr. A. Abdulla (Dr. Jay)

Dr. Jay is the Former Deputy CIO of the White House serving under President Barack Obama. She also works as Chief Information Security Officer for Xerox. She began her career in the field as a cryptologic engineer. At that time, she worked for the U.S. Department of Defense. Later, she worked as Chief Technology Officer for Lockheed Martin IT. She was also listed on Black Enterprise’s Most Powerful Women in Corporate America in 2019. Dr. Jay was listed in the Top 100 Most Social CIOs in 2015 and 2016 by HuffPost. She was also listed as one of the Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America in 2017 by Black Enterprise.

Lillian Ablon

Lillian Ablon works for Ring and Amazon in the Security, Threat & Vulnerability for Internet of Things. She works as an information scientist. She also works as an emerging technology strategist. She’s worked for many organizations. She’s also served in a wide range of roles. That includes as a DEF CON “Uber” Black Badge recipient, a congressional expert witness, and a trusted expert for numerous news outlets. She’s worked to help policymakers develop security solutions, including enhancing data breach ecosystems. She’s worked in areas of the dark and deep web. Previously, she’s conducted research for RAND Corporation.

Heather Adkins

Heather Adkins works as Direct, Security & Privacy for Google. She was a founding member of the Google Security Team. She works as the Director of Information Security and Privacy. In this role, she helped to increase the safety and security of Google’s networks around the world. You may find her on LinkedIn with numerous credits to her name. That includes working on Operation Aurora and in the 2016 U.S. election.

Parry Aftab

Parry Aftab is the founder of StopCyberbullying, WiredSafety, WiredTrust, and Cybersafety India. She also is a digital privacy and cybersecurity lawyer. She is most recently noted as managing director of Wired-Trust. She’s worked in various areas, including UNESCO, the UN, and in national security. She’s even been featured in a Marvel Spider-Man comic book for her work in educating about cyberbullying.

Dr. Mary Aiken

Working as a cyberpsychologist, Dr. Mary Aiken aids in a newer sector of her industry. She has also served as an academic advisor in European Cyber Crime Center. She is a member of the EC3 Advisory group.

Debra Baker

Debra Baker works as the principal security engineer at Cygnacom Solutions. She works in areas of CPS, PKI CP, and CISSP and CCPS. She is also the co-founder of the League of Women in Cybersecurity as well as the founder of the John Hopkins University Cryptographic Knowledge Base called CyrptoDoneRight. In her history, she has worked with numerous organizations. That includes CISCO and the U.S. Air Force.

Emily Heath

Emily Heath works with United Airlines. There, she is the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and the Vice President. She aids in a range of cybersecurity jobs. This includes in information security, compliance programs, and the management of over 90,000 employees. She is also an industry speaker. She was named in The 50 in 2018 by Crain’s. Emily Heath was also included in the 2019 Top 100 Technology Executives to Watch Awards by HMG Strategy.