cyber daily logo

Breaking news and updates daily. Subscribe to our Newsletter

Breaking news and updates daily. Subscribe to our Newsletter X facebook linkedin Instagram Instagram

Why closing the gender gap can fix the cyber skills gap

The cyber industry in Australia and around the world is burning the candle at both ends. Where cyber attacks are becoming more prominent in an increasingly digital world, staff and skills shortages are plaguing the industry.

user icon Daniel Croft
Thu, 05 Jan 2023
Why closing the gender gap can fix the cyber skills gap
expand image

Alongside the skills gap is another gap that has plagued the cyber and tech industries for some time — the gender gap. Put two and two together, and it makes sense that fixing the latter is a great way to fix the former.

According to the (ICS)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study 2022, there is a global workforce gap of 3.4 million, a number that has increased by 26.2 per cent year on year.

At the same time, the industry is still a male-dominated space, meaning plenty of room for growth with a greater female workforce.

The (ICS)² shows that the percentage of women in the industry does increase with younger age groups, representing either a societal change or a discouraged demographic being pushed out of the industry.

In the 60 or older demographic, only 14 per cent of workers are female, while 84 per cent are male. In the 30 and under demographic category, the percentage of women in the workforce increases to 30 per cent. Men still dominate the industry however at 69 per cent.

According to Girls Who Code chief executive officer Dr Tarika Barrett, PhD, 57 per cent of women leave the tech industry by the time they are 35.

As Digital Guardian EMEA channel manager Shelley O’Leary points out, “Closing the gender gap isn’t just about bringing women and non-binary people into cyber security. It’s about keeping them here.”

O’Leary says that people in minority groups need to be represented, given equal opportunity and included in the industry for them to remain in the industry and standing to reason, fix the skills shortage.

“Not only will failure to do this result in talent loss, but it will also mean companies aren’t gaining from the diversity of experience they have on paper. You won’t benefit from under-represented talent if they’re only found in your junior roles.”

In the case of skills, women were also more likely to hold higher levels of education. Where men were more likely to have high school diplomas, two-year associate degrees or bachelor’s degrees, women were more likely to hold master’s degrees (49 per cent for women versus 42 per cent for men), doctorates (4 per cent for women versus 3 per cent for men) and post-doctoral degrees (4 per cent for women versus 3 per cent for men).

Businesses are increasingly recognising the potential of a more diverse workforce in fixing the skills gap.

Fifty-seven per cent of the survey’s respondents said that their organisation plans to “invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (e.g. attract more women and minorities to enter the cyber security profession)”.

Governments are working hard to encourage women and minorities to be better represented in the cyber security industry. In Australia, there is a range of projects aimed at upskilling and diversifying the nation’s cyber security workforce.

As part of the second round of the $70 million Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund, 18 different projects were awarded grants from $250,000 to $3 million each to fund “50 per cent of eligible project expenditure”. The second-round prioritised diversity.

The grant was designed to bolster the cyber security workforce in Australia and targeted “organisations partnering together to find innovative new ways to improve the quality or availability of cyber security professionals in Australia”.

The aim of these projects is to increase the participation of a variety of groups, including women, First Nations Australians, people in remote and regional areas and people with neurodiverse backgrounds.

The funding will allow these groups to train and upskill participants through scholarships, paid internships, and placements, teaching discounts, mentoring and targeted outreach programs and flexible learning options.

While the cyber security industry has a long way to go in solving the skills shortage, fixing the gender gap in the industry is a two-bird, one-stone solution that could transform cyber safety nationwide.

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Born in the heart of Western Sydney, Daniel Croft is a passionate journalist with an understanding for and experience writing in the technology space. Having studied at Macquarie University, he joined Momentum Media in 2022, writing across a number of publications including Australian Aviation, Cyber Security Connect and Defence Connect. Outside of writing, Daniel has a keen interest in music, and spends his time playing in bands around Sydney.

cd intro podcast

Introducing Cyber Daily, the new name for Cyber Security Connect

Click here to learn all about it
cyber daily subscribe
Be the first to hear the latest developments in the cyber industry.