In recent times, research has shown that 20 percent of cybersecurity workforce is made up of women according to cybersecurityventures.com. In this article I would be introducing you to the world of women in cybersecurity, the important role they play, organizations the belong to and many more.
So without any further delay, here is the breakdown to what we would be discussing in this article:
- Is Cybersecurity for women?
- Why women should be in Cybersecurity?
- Challenges women face in cybersecurity
- 5 important practices to get women into Cybersecurity
- Steps that women can take to pursue a career in Cybersecurity
- 5 women in Cybersecurity Associations to follow
Is Cybersecurity for women?
The short answer is yes.
It’s no doubt that certain fields which has been stereotypically dominated by men happens to be Information Technology which is at the top of the food chain.
Cybersecurity in Information technology happens to have just about 20 percent occupied by women according to cybersecurityventures.com which is just up from 11 percent in 2013.
This begs the question, is cybersecurity for women?
Why women should be in Cybersecurity
Having more women in cybersecurity creates more diversity in a cybersecurity workplace.
Seeing the need for having women as cybersecurity engineers is much more that what is right or what is wrong but rather how they can contribute to the influence of cybersecurity practices in the real world.
Cybersecurity is a field that requires professionals to think outside the box and approach threats from different angles. These so called hackers and cyber criminals all have wide range of personalities and backgrounds.
The best way to combat these threats is equally popularizing the cybersecurity field and industry with professionals who are not just skilled but also have a wide range of experiences and backgrounds.
And also there is a high demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals today that both men and women have equal chances of pursing a cybersecurity job field.
Women in cybersecurity is also more than just hiring more female professionals to fill up the gap, or trying to create gender equality in the cybersecurity field but rather seeing the need to have them improve the business side of this field.
There are women known to work effectively in leadership positions and also manage other professionals in more ways than men. This of course isn’t saying provide women with preferential treatments but rather create a neutral ground where men and women have equal chances of pursuing a career in this field.
Challenges women face in cybersecurity
In this section we would briefly look at the challenges women face in cybersecurity. It quite generic to see the challenges as gender biasness/discrimination, but having a deeper understanding of the real challenges and problems women face in cybersecurity is what would provide solutions to it.
One of the major challenges that women face today in cybersecurity and any other related field is that they have being subconsciously manipulated that STEM fields (Science, technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are only meant for men and not women.
In today’s world, the STEM field has seen little to no women contribution and this has created a perception in the minds of a female scientist who most times happens to be the only one in the room.
When this happens, it is known that women are left to strive harder to be recognized in their field and even harder to get the right opportunities that could set them up in this STEM industry.
These challenges can be very difficult to tackle because it has found its way into the minds and culture of individuals and professionals in the field. The best way to tackle this problem is for more women to get into the cybersecurity industry in order for the cycle to be broken.
5 important practices to get women into Cybersecurity
With the situation like this, the question is what more can be done to increase the number of women going into cybersecurity and other STEM fields.
Below are the 5 important approaches or practices that can done to increase the number of women going into cybersecurity:
- Companies should create internal policies that create a more friendly environment for women
- Diversity in workplace should be made a policy in all cybersecurity industries
- More women should be giving equal opportunities as men during the hiring process
- All employees should be trained the same way regardless of gender
- More professional bodies like Women Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC) and Women in Cyber Security (WiCyS) should be created.
The purpose for these organizations is to make women feel more confident and supported working in various STEM fields.
Steps that women can take to pursue a career in Cybersecurity
As a woman trying to get into cybersecurity, there are key steps to take that should put you on track and also give you an edge over other professionals in the field regardless of their gender.
These steps include:
1. Be bold in your approach to learning
What you need to realize is that there is no secret to becoming a professional in your field than learning the skills it takes effectively.
You need to try and take chances and not be afraid of going after what you want or the skills you need to get you that cybersecurity job regardless of the pressure or population of male gender learning such skill.
Go the extra mile because as a woman, little is expected from you because of the social and cultural biasness that has formed in the mind of people.
The key is to use that and come out with something nobody would expect. The ways to do that is:
- Enroll for more cybersecurity professional certificates
- Involve yourself in practical scenarios of combating cyber threats
- Enroll for cybersecurity internship positions to increase your level of experience
- Stay updated to daily cybersecurity news
Now that you have a thorough understanding of your area of specialization, it is time to mingle with other professionals in the fields.
This is important because you are trying to create a name for yourself, establish yourself as an authority in the field and also gain more from other professionals in the field.
Another way to do is find a mentor. A mentor would guide you on your career paths and which areas to focus more on.
Get a mentor that is an authority in the field you are interested in, and always be willing to learn from him/her regardless of their gender.
3. Start small, make a plan
The idea here is be ready to learn wherever you are right now. If you are currently in a company that is not cybersecurity related, and you know you have the right knowledge required to get a cybersecurity internship position then look for one.
Cybersecurity internship is one of the easiest ways cybersecurity engineers land their first jobs. As you know cyber security is a very competitive field that requires high skilled professionals to fill its job positions.
While staying in your current company, you can look for openings for cybersecurity interns, apply and gain the necessary skills needed.
4. Build up your portfolio
You can do this by participating in cybersecurity competitions or penetration testing exercises hosted by companies.
You can also work partime for other people by providing your services to them either through upwork or fiverr.
Doing all this would give you an edge over other professionals in the field and you will also make yourself an authority in the field.
5. Be confident
Always be ready to talk in conferences even among other male professionals in the field. Women most times find it difficult to express themselves in a male dominated group or gatherings.
This shouldn’t be so, always be bold and confident to speak your mind and opinions whenever you want to.
Top 5 Women in Cybersecurity Associations to follow
These organizations have been established to close the gap of women working in the cybersecurity space and also help them achieve their best no matter the gender biasness of cybersecurity industries.
- Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS)
- Women of Cybersecurity (WoSEC)
- Women Society of Cyberjutsu (WSCJ)
- OWASP Women in AppSex (WIA)
These are the top 5 organizations to follow that would help you kick start and advance in your cybersecurity career.