This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is #embraceequity. To discuss what this means for women in cyber security, we spoke to members of the Bridewell Women’s Network. Read on for their thoughts on some common questions about cyber security careers for women.
According to research from (ISC)2, only 24% of workers in the cyber security industry are women. For those who have worked in cyber security, this figure may not come as a surprise. The majority of women will have seen this statistic reflected in their day-to-day working experience given that predominantly male organisations are the norm rather than the exception.
So how can equity address this?
What Does Equity Mean For Women in Cyber Security?
‘Equity’ focuses on providing individuals with equal outcomes, rather than equal resources. For women in cyber security, this means ensuring that the disadvantages they experience in the workplace don’t prevent them from achieving the same successes as their male counterparts. This differs from ‘equality’, which is the idea of providing people with the same resources without taking into account individual’s differing circumstances or needs.
For example, an ‘equal’ organisation might provide flexible working arrangements to both male and female employees. However, research has shown that women are far more likely than men to be in flexible working arrangements that mean they lose hours (and therefore pay). Women often have a greater proportion of caring responsibilities compared to their male colleagues, which places more restrictions upon the hours they can work. Organisations that can only accommodate this with part-time hours or shared work will prohibit them from earning the same pay as a male colleague.
An ‘equitable’ organisation could address this by ensuring they provide good flexible working opportunities for women that account for this. Offering flexible hours that allow women to work the same number of hours as their male colleagues at different times throughout the day is just one way for cyber security organisations to promote equity in the workplace. Other areas these organisations could look at are offering returnships, providing open forums to discuss gender diversity, and promoting cyber security as a viable career option amongst women currently studying in schools, colleges, or universities.
|- Rebecca Taylor, Digital Marketing Specialist|
What Attributes Do Women Bring To The Cyber Security Industry?
Women can and do bring so many attributes to the cyber security industry. In fact, improved diversity of any kind introduces a broader range of perspectives. This is something that an industry like cyber, which is often known for being stagnant in its workforce, can massively benefit from. More specifically, research has shown that women are naturally more empathetic, which is a largely overlooked skill for cyber roles, particularly within consultancy. A good consultant is rational to the facts, yet empathetic to the client’s needs. Alongside their technical capabilities, women naturally possess strong ‘soft skills’, which will enable cyber practices to evolve further and keep up with growing industry demand.
|- Amelia Hewitt, Cyber Security Consultant|
What Do Leadership and Career Progression Look Like For Women in Cyber Security?
Sky’s the limit I’d say!
The demands of leadership and management have undergone a significant shift in recent years. They’ve moved from the typical ‘command and control’ type environment to an adaptive style, where you’re working with the team to come to solutions together. This is immensely rewarding in any domain, but especially within cyber security, where the challenges are new and evolving. The ability to navigate the unknown, and keeping your cool in high pressure situations are like warpaint found across good cyber security leaders in the industry. In cyber security consulting, we’re seeing eye to eye with the leaders in large and small corporations and providing our expert opinion, whilst also supporting and leading teams of consultants working on a range of projects.
|- Ash Mohanaprakas, Senior Lead Consultant|
Why Is There a Lack Of Women In Cyber?
“The industry itself is male dominated. That said, it’s for employers to make sure they meet the workforce gender balance. I think that women may not have been particularly encouraged to enter such jobs when they were younger, which has led them to pursue other careers. The representation of women in cybersecurity has made positive developments over the last ten years, but we still have a lot of work to do, as females only make up 25% of the industry’s workforce. As more women break into cyber companies and roles, and forge a successful career path, it will inspire our younger generation of females to pursue careers in cybersecurity.”
|- Angel Huizar, Talent Acquisition Coordinator|
What Is the Future For Women In Cyber Security?
“The future is bright, the future is....anything we want it to be! Having worked in cyber security for over 12 years I have seen the ‘shift’ in, what was once, a very male-dominated industry, to an industry full of inspiring women in many different leadership positions. These are the women I look up to and aspire to be like; they’ve set the bar and shown us that anything is possible. This year’s IWD theme on #embraceequity is a great focus point as it highlights the fact that there are unique challenges women face. Women and our allies need to continue to support and overcome these challenges to create an environment and industry where the playing field is well and truly equitable for all. I see the future for women in cyber security to be one of great strength, diversity and success.”
|- Lydia Walker, Senior Lead Consultant|
Is Cyber Security A Good Career For Women?
Of course! No career should be defined by gender and this question never came to mind when I was looking to step into the world of cyber security. As I sat there among my male counterparts, never once did I think it wasn’t the right place for me. In fact, it proved to me it was exactly the place I had to be. Diversity in the workplace provides different insight, ideas, and strengths, so that when everyone collaborates, it truly creates a winning formula. The skills required within a cyber security career are diverse in themselves, and that makes for a great table to sit at.
|- Grace Perry, Client Lead|
What is the Bridewell Women’s Network?
The Bridewell Women’s Network is open to anyone within Bridewell who identifies as female, or is an ally, where they can participate in and benefit from the support of a dedicated community. The network’s mission is to cultivate and celebrate women's ambition by connecting our members to the wider industry, provide professional development resources, attract the best female talent in the industry, and support opportunities for women whilst working at Bridewell but also after life at Bridewell. The network meets regularly to host talks from internal and external speakers about key topics and provide an open space for women to discuss their experiences in the cyber industry.
Looking to take the next step in a cyber security career? Learn more about life at Bridewell on our website and see our current vacancies at our careers page.