Tackling gender diversity in cyber security

James Gray

Managing Director, Cyber & Intelligence

Gender diversity must be more than just a buzzword that is thrown around; it needs to result in action – particularly within the cyber security sector.


Women only make up 11% of the
global cyber workforce. Here in the UK, the problem is even more acute, with
the proportion of women in the sector standing at just 8%, one of the world’s
lowest.

As the demand for individuals
with cyber security skills grows, organisations are depriving themselves of a
considerable talent pool if they fail to recruit more women into cyber roles.

Gender balanced teams create
diversity of thought, which in turn leads to greater innovation.

As hackers are constantly
innovating and finding new ways to cause trouble, cyber professionals must be
equally creative to counter their threats.

So why does there continue to be
a gender gap in the sector?

Making people aware of a cyber career

According to Emily and Kara, two of Raytheon UK’s Software Engineers, people may not be aware of the career opportunities that are available in cyber security, especially for those with the correct skills, regardless of background.

“Often, people don’t choose a certain career path simply
because they are not aware it exists and the work has never been demonstrated
to them”, says Emily.

Initiatives like the Women in
Cyber Academy (WICA) are crucial in highlighting opportunities for women like
Kara, who may not have considered a cyber career in the first place.

“I am very new to software engineering, having spent many
years working in academic research. I was considering career options outside of
academia.

“I saw a post on social media advertising the ‘Women in
Cyber Academy’”, she says. “It sounded like a fantastic opportunity.

“I got in touch with the organisers and was eventually invited to an engagement day to meet with potential employers. Following a very intensive 12-week course, I started work at Raytheon straight after”.

Always be willing to learn

Despite initiatives such as
WICA, the cyber sector can continue to feel daunting, and a distant aspiration
for some.

Often, it’s a perceived lack of
technical experience, formal qualifications or contacts – these are the typical
barriers that can hold people back from landing their dream cyber security
role.

However, according to Emily, this
should not put people off from applying for a cyber role.

“My advice would be to just go for it! It is an extremely
interesting and challenging career choice. Every day is different with new
challenges and there are great opportunities to learn and use some exciting
technologies.”

This enthusiasm must be combined
with a passion for learning how technology works and evolves, as well as how
people interact with it.

Many of the best software
developers are self-taught, for example, using the likes of YouTube to
experiment on their own personal projects and practicing how to code.

“My main advice is to keep your tech skills up to scratch,
make sure you have a good grasp of the fundamentals and show interest in
engineering by completing your own side projects or learning in your spare
time”, Emily adds.

“As a software engineer, a good understanding of
programming principles and being proficient in at least one programming
language will really help you get started in this industry.”

Addressing the gender gap is a collective effort

So, on this International Women
in Engineering Day, it is vital for us to consider the skills that everyone can
offer in countering cyber threats, regardless of background, gender or
experience.

Whether you are more artistic or
a scientific, your talent could be crucial in keeping the UK cyberspace safe
and secure.

With more than 30 years of experience in cyber, Raytheon UK protects critical information and infrastructure from complex threats and vulnerabilities – allowing customers to unlock the true value of their data and information. Our services encompass the following business areas: national security cyber; defence intelligence, space systems and digital.

The post Tackling gender diversity in cyber security appeared first on Women in STEM.

This content was originally published here.

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