How Women Can Make Lasting Changes in the Cybersecurity Industry

Feb. 19, 2024
Women in cybersecurity have a distinct set of skills that can be even more effective than technical knowledge

Despite the growing number of employment opportunities in cybersecurity, women remain notably scarce in the field.

A recent study highlights that globally, only 24 percent of cybersecurity professionals are women. This disparity not only reflects diversity and equality concerns within organizations but also carries important consequences for the industry's overall development and efficiency.

Challenges That Organizations Encounter in Cybersecurity

The safety of digital information has become critical today. Growing trends in the number of online threats and data theft have forced companies to spend significant resources to shield their systems. However, implementing effective security measures is still a challenge for many. Here are some reasons why this challenge persists:

The Complexity of Modern Cyber Threats

The landscape of cybersecurity is always evolving, never static. Those intent on cybercrime are always crafting new strategies to infiltrate systems. They employ a variety of techniques, ranging from deceitful phishing attempts to malicious software and overwhelming DDoS attacks. This continuous metamorphosis of threats poses a significant challenge for businesses trying to pinpoint and mitigate every security flaw.

Shortage of Skilled Professionals

There's a pronounced deficiency in specialized knowledge within the cybersecurity field, and the requirement for highly skilled workers is growing. However, the quest to find adequately qualified staff to satisfy this demand is proving difficult. This situation is worsened by ongoing skills gaps, leaving many businesses vulnerable to cyber threats.

Gender Disparities and Discrimination

The field of cybersecurity is still male-dominated, and notable gender gaps in the workforce continue to persist. This mismatch creates a significant barrier for aspiring women looking to rise through the ranks in this industry. Discrimination and unequal opportunities also contribute to this problem, limiting diversity and hindering progress toward creating more innovative security solutions.

The Importance of Different Perspectives in Cybersecurity

Equality and diversity in cybersecurity also expand the range of opportunities for all employees, which is a wise strategic step for the industry.

Cybersecurity initiatives require sharp analytical skills and problem-solving ability. By employing a variety of experiences and perspectives, businesses can solve modern security issues more effectively. This creates a more approachable industry for job seekers and encourages a fresh perspective when tackling major challenges like ransomware recovery.

Diversity can be especially important when planning for the real-world response to a potential cyberthreat. Many tabletop exercises require participants to essentially role-play their action plans for serious incidents. Here, the ability to draw from diverse perspectives can make or break a successful exercise.

Why More Female Involvement in Cybersecurity Matters

In addition to leveling the playing field, increasing female involvement in cybersecurity has proven benefits. Below are some of the notable advantages:

Addressing The Apparent Gender Gap in Cybersecurity

To eliminate the gender gap in cyber security, there are significant contributions that women can provide. Their backgrounds are widely varied, as is their technical background, which can help contribute to unique analyses that often work well in identifying different solutions to problems.

As women excel in their cybersecurity roles, they not only show their value but also create a path for more women after them. Together, women can work to break stereotypes through their actions and career success.

The influence of these women is widespread. The strides that they make motivate and empower others. This, in turn, initiates a cycle that has major implications for the success of modern cybersecurity.

The Importance of Effective Leadership

When women establish themselves in cybersecurity industries, there is more room for different leadership styles to emerge. Studies have revealed that women tend to possess certain distinctive leadership qualities, including effective communication skills, intelligence, and the ability to improve teamwork. These abilities are especially important in cybersecurity, where communication and collaboration play a key role.

Different forms of leadership are also necessary to make workplaces more open and inviting for all employees. Women in leadership positions in organizations show to others that their voices are heard and they are acknowledged.

Making Use of a Wider Range of Skills and Experiences

Women in cybersecurity have a distinct set of skills that can be even more effective than technical knowledge. They are experts in communications, great analytical people, attentive to detail, and effective project managers. These soft skills are invaluable in many cybersecurity roles.

Many times, though, the value of these abilities is often ignored when it comes to cybersecurity strategies in organizations. This oversight not only hampers the progressiveness of potential cybersecurity professionals but also weakens the organization’s overall performance.

The combination of soft and technical skills is also highly effective in security and compliance audits. When conducting ISO audits and SOC Audits, it becomes crucial to dive into the technical aspects of cybersecurity controls and systems while still being able to identify vulnerabilities, assess risks, and communicate improvements clearly and concisely.

Bringing Fresh Perspectives to Organizations

Many studies have repeatedly demonstrated that men and women deal with various situations in unique ways due to both personality traits and their hardwired responses. Nevertheless, this gap does not mean that one gender is better than the other at problem-solving.

The ability to effectively solve complex challenges requires drawing on a wide range of capabilities. This is particularly important in the field of cybersecurity. When a variety of security approaches are joined together, they produce an increased protective guard for businesses.

A recent discovery by Dice Research revealed that women generally possess 52.5 percent more soft skills than men in four key areas - leadership, interpersonal abilities, analytical skills, and personal attributes. This highlights the untapped potential of women in the cybersecurity sector and shows the significance of promoting more diversity and inclusion in organizations.

Creating More Opportunities to Improve Cybersecurity

Promoting diversity in a team is crucial, particularly when it comes to keeping up with changing cyber threats. While some are still not as represented in the cybersecurity field, companies can take steps to motivate and attract more of them to join the industry. This will allow businesses to gain important viewpoints and create more well-rounded strategies for their security initiatives.

Nazy Fouladirad is the President and COO of Tevora, a global leading cybersecurity consultancy. She has dedicated her career to creating a more secure business and online environment for organizations across the country and the world. She is passionate about serving her community and acts as a board member for a local nonprofit organization.