According to a survey from 451 Research, only 37% of enterprises have or have considered applying for formal programs that encourage women to participate in cybersecurity. Additionally, in 45% of enterprises, the number of women working in IT security departments is less than that of the company’s workforce.
Studies have shown that a diverse workforce improves business performance, and the most diverse enterprises globally achieve 19 percentage points higher revenue from innovation, making gender parity important for business success. While some enterprises do have diversity initiatives in place, women only constitute 39% of the labor force and 25% of management positions worldwide.
To help women succeed and progress in their careers, it is important to develop programs in a variety of fields, especially those that are considered to be male-dominated such as cybersecurity. This perception is often a barrier for women when beginning their careers and entering the industry. According to the 451 Research “Cybersecurity through the CISO’s eyes. Perspectives on a role” report commissioned by Kaspersky, 45% of CISOs confirmed that women are under-represented in their department.
The survey found that 80% of respondents said a popular approach in attracting women to the cybersecurity field is to train those who have an IT background. Almost half of the survey’s respondents said that they currently provide, or plan to provide, internship programs aimed at female students (42%), or are ready to train candidates with little or no qualifications (40%).
Only 22% of respondents said they hire female candidates from other departments within their organizations and 63% said that they are only looking for fully-qualified specialists with no consideration towards gender. However, 70% of CISOs continue to find it difficult to source skilled IT security specialists in different areas, highlighting the need for CISOs to look for alternative ways to bridge the talent gap.
Additionally, the research highlighted that men far outnumber women among IT security leaders. Just under a fifth (23%) of respondents who answered the question about their gender stated they are women. Nonetheless, the tenure in their role suggests that the number of women in a security leadership role is growing. 20% of female respondents moved into their position as an IT security leader in the last two years, which is twice as many as the amount of men in the same role.
Alena Reva of Kaspersky said that the findings of this survey show that the situation in the industry is changing, but it’s far from ideal and we are still lacking strong representation of women. It’s not just a question of finding the perfect ratio of men and women. In the in-depth interviews with CISOs, many of them say that there are not enough female applicants in the pipeline. So, to address the gender gap in cybersecurity, we should encourage women to choose this career path.