Women represent only 10% of the infosec workforce

Surveying nearly 14,000 global professionals, a new (ISC)2 report focuses on the lack of gender diversity in the information security workforce despite a cyber landscape that is growing and changing in complexity of threats.

Specific topic areas in the report include the differences between men and women in the industry, the current and future outlook for women in the information security field and the unique skills women possess to fill pertinent information security positions today and in the future.

“The information security field is expected to see a deficit of 1.5 million professionals by 2020 if we don’t take proactive measures to close the gap,” says (ISC)2 CEO David Shearer.

While women have represented approximately 10 percent of the information security workforce for the past few years, analysis from the last two (ISC)2 information security workforce surveys shows that women are quickly converging on men in terms of academic focus, computer science and engineering, and, as a gender, have a higher concentration of advanced degrees. For example, women in information security are making their largest impact in GRC – which the study identified as a growing role in information assurance and cybersecurity – as one out of five women identified GRC as their primary functional responsibility compared to one out of eight men holding similar positions.

“I find the results of the research heartening, in the sense that we are starting to see a full career progression for information security professionals,” says Allison Miller, product manager at Google and member of the (ISC)2 Board of Directors. “We’ve moved past the stage where people say ‘you do what for a living?’ and have matured into an industry that needs and demands more diverse skillsets, and more sophisticated differentiation of roles. What the numbers say is that the industry needs more talent. Great! Yes! Let’s foster more talent and innovation, everywhere in information security. That means taking more risks and including more voices. Having hard data gives us the ability to assess industry gaps and shortages – and individual career objectives and expectations – in a more thoughtful and systematic way.”

Key findings from the report:

  • GRC is one of the fasting growing information security roles where women tend to dominate.
  • Women possess key character traits that enable them to succeed in GRC roles.
  • The percentage of women with either a Master’s or Doctorate degree are strong, with 58 percent of women having advanced degrees versus 47 percent of men.
  • In the GRC subgroup of respondents, women’s average annual salary was 4.7 percent less than men. Interesting to point out is the difference men and women place on the importance of monetary compensation. Men value monetary compensation slightly over women who look for other incentives from their employers (i.e. flexible schedules).
  • Women are more progressive in their views on training methods. Offering increased accessibility and wider diversity of information security training opportunities may prove to be increasingly valuable in retention and in elevating professionals’ readiness to succeed in new roles.

“The Internet of Things brings great opportunity and connectivity, but it also adds to the complexity of the cyber threat,” said Angela Messer, the executive vice president leading Booz Allen’s predictive intelligence business in the firm’s Strategic Innovation Group. “The adaptive nature of cyber threats demands a talent management strategy that will broaden the skillsets and knowledge of the information security profession. We must demonstrate to young women thinking about entering the industry the many opportunities that await them and reinforce for those currently working in cybersecurity that they have bright futures ahead.”


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