Women now actually make up 24% of the cybersecurity workforce – a seismic shift from the perennially static 11% number over the past six or more years. But this new data point, revealed today by ISC(2), comes with a caveat: It now counts women in IT whose daily jobs entail security responsibilities.
ISC2 retooled its survey data this year to include men and women in IT jobs where at least 25% of their day encompasses security tasks and issues to better reflect the scope of the job sector. That means it’s difficult to infer from the new ISC(2) data whether there has been significant growth in women cybersecurity professionals or whether women without cybersecurity-related job titles merely had gone uncounted in past surveys by ISC(2) and other organizations.
Cybersecurity Ventures said in a study last year that women would make up over 20% of the overall cybsersecurity market by the end of 2019.
While one-fourth still represents a relatively low ratio of women to men, the study shows a clear female youth-movement in security: Millennial women now make up 45% of women in the industry, compared with Millennial-age men, who make up 33% of their gender sector. That’s a shift from Generation X, which accounts for 25% of women and 44% of men in cybersecurity.
Mary-Jo de Leeuw, ISC(2) director of cybersecurity advocacy for the EMEA region, says the uptick in younger women entering the cybersecurity field stems from a cultural change as well as earlier exposure to technology and the presence of female role models in tech.
“They grew up in a digital world” and come from a culture where the Internet permeates their lives, according to de Leeuw, who has been involved with various organizations promoting cybersecurity skills and training for women and girls. “They’re used to being part of all cyber things around them, so they can also focus on being part of cybersecurity and part of the digital world.”
Not only are young girls – and boys – gradually getting more tech exposure at an earlier age, but cybersecurity education is emerging, with more undergraduate and graduate programs.
“When I was growing up in the industry, there wasn’t any type of academia around cybersecurity, even at the college level. Security experience mostly came from government and niche roles and backgrounds,” says Jennifer Minella, chairperson on the (ISC)2 board of directors and vice president of engineering and security at Carolina Advanced Digital.
Now there are programs, such as the CyberPatriot youth cyber education initiative for K-12, that provide cybersecurity exposure and education, according to Minella. “It’s reaching down to people at a younger age now,” she says.
Meanwhile, the gender pay gap hasn’t budged. Women still make less than men overall: While nearly 30% of men in the US make between $50,000 to $99,999, just 17% of women do. One-fifth of men make $100,000-plus, while 16% of women do. Overall, women make $5,000 less than men in security management positions, according to the ISC(2) report.
Millennial women, however, are making better salaries than previous generations of women. Twenty-one percent of Millennial women earn $50,000 to $99,999, compared with 29% of Millennial men. Even more interesting, 3% more Millennial women than men of that generation make $100,000-plus.
Just 10% of Baby Boomer women fell into the $50,000 to $90,000 salary scale, compared with 30% of Boomer men. As for Generation X, there was a 12% gap between men making $50,000 to $99,999. And 12% more Baby Boomer men make $100,000-plus than women of that age group.
“The pay gap was still [about the same],” de Leeuw says. “The next step is getting equal pay for women. … We’re getting there.”
Original report can be found on DARKReading.