New report launched on state of inclusion of women in cybersecurity

April 5, 2023

Women In CyberSecurity (WiCyS), based in the US, recently launched a study to better understand the experiences of women working in cyber security. The study included a survey aimed at pinpointing the barriers that prevent women from being recruited, hired, retained and promoted in the sector at the same rate as men. Working in collaboration with US firm Aleria the study found that women were especially impacted by a lack of career and growth opportunities, and a lack of respect that stemmed from company leadership, direct managers and peers.

The data for the report was obtained from a series of workshops in February attended by over 300 women who anonymously entered information about themselves, their workplace and their experiences.  Almost 500 experiences were collected in total, with women reporting incidents such as male co-workers viewing pornography in their presence, receiving less "pats on the back" than their male counterparts, and being asked to speak with a man in IT instead of them.

"We know that the representation of women in cybersecurity hovers around 24%, far lower than it should be," said Lynn Dohm, executive director of WiCyS. "We wanted to find out why this was the case and were somewhat -- but not entirely -- surprised that the most common source of women's feelings of exclusion came from people, not company policies.This highlights the fact that we still have a long way to go when it comes to accepting women in the cybersecurity industry."

More than two-thirds (68%) of participants cited leadership as being a source of experiences of exclusion, 61% cited managers, and 52% cited peers. By comparison, workplace policies were cited as a source of exclusion by only 12% of participants.

The top two areas where participants reported exclusion were career & growth (reported by 57% of participants) and respect (reported by 56% of participants). Other frequently cited categories included recognition and access, both cited by 41% of participants.

"With cybersecurity facing a serious shortage of workers, it is essential to understand the obstacles that prevent women from entering and advancing in the field," said Paolo Gaudiano, president of Aleria.  “We hope our study is a much-needed wake-up call for business leaders to move beyond diversity as the sole metric, and to make inclusion a key part of their diversity,equity and inclusion strategy and objectives."

To read the full report go to: State of Inclusion of Women in Cybersecurity

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