Women in ethical hacking: Why it’s important to encourage more women into cybersecurity careers and how to make it happen

For a profession that is growing in relevance, the number of women working in cybersecurity is shockingly low. Find out why it’s important to encourage more women into cybersecurity careers and how to make it happen

Women make up just 25% of cybersecurity professionals, which is a significant increase from several years ago. However, there is always room for growth—especially considering the first computer programmer was a woman, after all!

Ethical hacking is an incredibly rewarding career. It offers job stability, great pay, and it’s a sector with huge projected growth. This industry needs more workers—and not just any workers—more skilled workers to meet the demand that the future promises.

And yet, many women are up against inherent biases in the workplace, which is why more companies need to make it easier for women to get into this field.

Why it’s important to encourage more women into cybersecurity careers

All industries have evolved, and they will continue to do so, which means they are growing and changing in new and surprising ways. The cybersecurity landscape is constantly shifting as new threat vectors continuously arise.

Many solutions exist to combat security threats, such as endpoint security, cloud-based encryption, and small business password management platforms, but there’s also a global developer and coding talent shortage.

While companies may be pressured to diversify their ranks and level the playing field, it’s not simply a matter of demanding cybersecurity companies meet diversity quotas. It’s a matter of recognizing that female cybersecurity experts are every bit as talented as their male counterparts.

The gender pay gap is astronomical in the cybersecurity industry. It’s been shown that, on average, male security experts in North America earn up to $96,500 annually, compared to just $80,000 for women. In Europe, the gap is even more significant, with men earning up to $67,000 annually and women just $40,500.

What if there was a cybersecurity job that women could participate in that would not exclude them? Couldn’t there be a cybersecurity job that women could join that has a competitive salary, job stability, and that offers advancement opportunities?

How to make it happen

Cybersecurity is a steadily growing career field, although there is a significant talent shortage for the projected years to come. While the security industry struggles to find talent, a key consideration is that the IT industry hasn’t exactly been friendly towards women.

Women have indeed filled more leadership roles in security firms, but across the board, women aren’t considered as talented in the “hard skills” as their male counterparts. Diversity for the sake of diversity does nobody any favors. What we need is for female security experts to be recognized as talented professionals and not “girl coders.”

Women in cybersecurity can create a future in which women in every field have the freedom and support to excel and make a difference. By investing in women in cybersecurity and providing them with opportunities for career advancement, we are encouraging more women to join the field and making a real difference.

Encouraging women to study cybersecurity and STEM

While a higher percentage of women earned bachelor’s degrees than men in STEM fields, men still make up 73% of all STEM workers. Despite women’s increasing desire to enter STEM careers, very few women choose to study cybersecurity, possibly due to misconceptions regarding this field.

Statistically, men tend to prefer the “lots of money” aspect of a STEM career and women the “working with people” aspect. There is an inherent stereotype that cybersecurity is a job for men. Because women are at a disadvantage when competing against men for these careers, many women continue to avoid cybersecurity and STEM fields.

But there is hope. As women begin to pursue careers in cybersecurity and STEM, they may be more inclined to explore the field. Women studying cybersecurity will encounter more women studying cybersecurity. They may eventually encourage their female friends and peers to study this field, as it is no longer viewed as something out of reach.

How to recruit and retain women in cybersecurity careers

Companies should make hiring and promoting more women a priority. Women in cybersecurity should be encouraged to seek out companies that treat them well and offer opportunities for career growth.

Women can also help overcome recruitment challenges by participating in and volunteering at security conferences and educational opportunities to gain experience and support. The increasing number of women in cybersecurity will encourage more women to enter the field, thus creating a more even playing field for everyone.

Finally, companies can provide women in cybersecurity with competitive salaries and career benefits. Security firms should make their female employees feel valued and acknowledged for their skills and reaffirm that there’s no need to change who they are to gain success.

The constant battle for women to be seen, represented, and paid as equally as men is an ongoing and unfair battle that needs to be fought. Creating a professional and supportive environment is essential in attracting the top female talent to cybersecurity.

By creating a cybersecurity culture that promotes diversity and supports women, companies will be better able to recruit and retain the best talent for their companies.