New research carried out by cybersecurity firm Crest has shown that more needs to be done to increase the number of female roles in cybersecurity.
The report, carried out at a recent gender diversity workshop run by Crest, highlighted several areas where improvements could be made; such as more outreach into schools, dedicated career mentoring for women entering the sector and changes to recruitment practices.
Workshop attendees were asked three main questions in a poll. They largely agreed that awareness of women in cybersecurity had improved, but 14% of respondents in the report argued that not enough work has been done in this area.
A further 86% believe that although progress has been made to support more female roles in cybersecurity, it’s not nearly enough.
Asked how they perceive their own experiences in the industry thus far, 30% had an “overwhelmingly positive” response, saying they enjoyed working in cybersecurity.
However, 59% of participants classified their experience in the industry as “mixed”, having faced obstacles and challenges that had to be overcome as a result of being female. Additionally, 11% expressed disdain for the industry and their experience of it, admitting it has been tough.
The main priorities moving forward in the industry should be to encourage girls and young women to study computer science, improve the visibility of female role models, challenge gender perception in cybersecurity and boost industry-wide mentoring and coaching.
Crest president, Ian Glover, commented: “It is encouraging that as an industry we are making progress, but there is a lot more to do and improving the visibility of female role models will allow us to challenge the perception of the cybersecurity industry.”
When asked about obstacles for increasing the number of women in the industry, The majority (57%) said that gender stereotypes from school age are the biggest barrier to increasing gender diversity.
A further 39% believe it’s the perception of the industry as a result of how it is marketed, while only 4% blame it on a lack of interest from women themselves.
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Data suggests that a dedicated mentoring scheme could be an effective way to get more women interested in cybersecurity, whilst also enhancing the talent of existing employees.
Glover continued: “Schools hold the key and we need to help them to encourage more girls into the industry. Furthermore, the mentoring scheme would give a platform on which role models can help to coach and guide others, which in turn will help to challenge the perception of gender as it relates to the industry.”
He added: “The actions are well-thought through, they are doable but just need the support of industry, education and recruiters.”
The vast majority of workshops attendees agreed that the inclusion of training options in job adverts could encourage more women to apply, as would the introduction of flexible working hours, maternity policies and support for women going back to work after a career break.