The gap between young men and women who would consider a career in the field of cybersecurity is widening, according to a survey of almost 4,000 people aged 18-26 from 12 countries.

Key findings from the study--commissioned by Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance, and published on Monday in a report entitled Securing Our Future: Closing the Cyber Talent Gap--are quite alarming when one considers the importance of cybersecurity in our increasingly digital world, and that gender equality is a major contributor towards the success of modern societies. Some of the findings include:

In the United States, 67 percent of men and 77 percent of women said no high school or secondary school teacher, guidance or career counselor ever mentioned the idea of a cybersecurity career.

Globally, 62 percent of men and 75 percent of women said no secondary or high school computer classes offered the skills to help them pursue a career in cybersecurity.

Globally, 47 percent of men say that they are aware of the typical range of responsibilities and job tasks involved in the cyber profession, compared to only 33 percent of women.

Globally, 52 percent of women, compared to 39 percent of young men, said they felt no cybersecurity programs or activities were available to them.

"Not only are we missing obvious opportunity to remediate a global shortfall of cybersecurity workers, but we're also seeing the problem compounded by leaving women behind when it comes to cybersecurity education, programs and careers," said Valecia Maclin, program director of cybersecurity and special missions at Raytheon. "It's critical that public and private partnerships focus on encouraging young girls to foster an interest in science, technology, engineering and math, so that more women are prepared to enter this burgeoning field and help create a diverse, talented workforce."

Ironically, the survey was published just days after the annual conference of the Executive Women's Forum, a growing, highly successful organization whose mission is to "attract, retain and advance women in the Information Security, IT Risk Management and Privacy industries, through education, leadership development and the creation of trusted relationships." The survey clearly underscores the need for such organizations, and for educators to do more to attract young people--and especially women--into our important field.

I should note that when reviewing the survey report I did notice two interesting factors that may have slightly skewed the results: 1. Among the 12 countries in which young people were polled was Saudi Arabia, a country that is among the world's worst when it comes to the treatment of women, and that 2. Nobody was polled in Israel, which boasts perhaps the world's highest per-capita involvement rates in the cybersecurity profession; any distortion resulting from such polling techniques, however, is likely to be minimal on a global scale when one considers the size of those nations versus the size of the global economy.

Please feel free to discuss this article with me. I'm on Twitter at @JosephSteinberg.

 

Published on: Oct 28, 2015
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