There is a massive shortage of cybersecurity experts and a growing trend for women and men to join this field from different professions, including IT, the law, compliance, and government. They form an array of “accidental” cyber experts who fill the gap for cyber experts and provide an alternative perspective regarding security threats.
Postings for jobs in the field of cybersecurity have increased by 74% over the last five years. Cisco report estimates there are 1 million cybersecurity jobs unfilled around the world which is why so many are interested in online degrees in cyber security. US News and World Report classified a career of information security analysis 5th on its list of top jobs in technology. Nationally, the average wage is $88,890 and much higher in cities like San Francisco and New York.
But women account for only 11% of the global information security workforce, according to the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu, and only 1percent of its top leadership.
One reason for this is that Hurley said there aren’t many women working in tech in general. “Sometimes it’s thought that the only path to getting into cybersecurity can be through the technological side, but this isn’t the situation,” she said. Hurley began her career as a lawyer, and she founded the Working Group on Innovation and Technology Policy within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
A multidisciplinary field
Cybersecurity is a multidisciplinary field, Hurley said. “One aspect I’ve performed time and over again is gather people from different fields in a room to develop a common language and to work on a specific issue or issue that requires to be solved,” she said.
Based on your experience, depending on your background, you could be able to make the transition into security within your own business, Hurley said. “There are many opportunities in cyber security and a lot of entrance points,” Hurley said. “Whatever way you enter, you’ll be working alongside colleagues from different disciplines and becoming more proficient.”
Shelley Westman, senior vice president of field operations and alliances at Protegrity, began her career as an attorney. She quit the legal field and joined IBM in various roles, including procurement and product management. In the end, she was given the position of hardware security. “I did not know anything about security and had to learn everything by myself,” she said. “I became enthralled by the security field-it’s very precise and fast-moving.”
The STEM question
The lack of women in cybersecurity and technology generally begins at middle school, where many young women drop out to skip STEM courses, according to Deidre Diamond, the founder as CEO and co-founder of CyberSN #brainbabe.
“We’re not ahead in the field of marketing and representing all the jobs in the world-our schools don’t know about all the jobs that exist,” Diamond said. “It’s changing because there’s plenty of potential for earning money in this field. If it’s promoted correctly, women will flock towards it.”
Westman admitted to having similar experiences. “When I meet with lots of girls in the teen years who haven’t thought of cybersecurity as an option for a career-they, they’ve got the impression that cybersecurity is sitting in a dark place with a single person, chasing off bad guys and hackers,” Westman said. “They don’t seem fascinated by it; however, it’s a misconception.”
How to switch
Lisa Kendall, marketing and media manager at CyberSN and #brainbabe, incorporated prior experience in marketing and additional cyber training into her current position. “Take the things you are proficient at and then see what’s available for the rest of us,” Kendall said. “Cybersecurity businesses are comprised of many different jobs, but only a few are technically skilled. Security organizations require HR, sales, marketing, and operations, as well as account management, and a host of other experts and all the security information needed for the industry is available at work.”
Kendall said that women are more likely to avoid self-exclusion when looking for a job. “Instead of thinking you won’t be a good fit for the job, take your chance and expose yourself to the world,” she added. “If you can tell your own story to the hiring staff with your cover letter and an intelligent resume, it is possible to be invited to be interviewed.”
There are different requirements for different companies to enter the field, Westman said. She suggests reading up on cybersecurity and locating Cyber Security course on the internet (find degrees and certifications here). Westman said you could also contact the current cybersecurity manager at your company and request to shadow them.
Companies must examine their current cybersecurity resources for holes and then look for employees to fill those gaps, Hurley said. For instance, someone in human resources might lead employee cybersecurity training, She added.
Women and men who work in cybersecurity are required to be allies when advocating for cybersecurity, Westman said, and be involved in coaching and speaking to groups of youngsters to spread awareness about cybersecurity as a field. “Be transparent about your reasons for being passionate about cybersecurity as a profession,” Westman said. “If girls don’t feel like there are others like them in this field, they’re not attracted to it.”