The Impact of Women in the IT World

Cybersecurity My20it21ch. todayAugust 26, 2021 5

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Let’s start with an example of a common situation for women in IT.

Has ever happened to you that you are reading a job opening post, and when you see the requirements, it looks something like this?

On another occasion Male systems engineer with 5+ years of experience in the cybersecurity field required for big IT corporation.

But then, you start reading other posts for non-cybersecurity related jobs in that same company, and it looks something like this:

We are looking for a female secretary to answer calls and schedule appointments and meetings for a full-time job. No experience required.

This scenario is common, and especially for jobs that are considered “just for men”. However, gender discrimination is a double-edged sword. Since there are job positions targeted as “just for women”, there are others that are cataloged as “just for men”. IS no secret that the number of women right now in the IT world (and the ones to come) is reduced.

Today, we are going to talk about the impact of women in the IT world as well as the different reasons why the percentage of men versus women in IT is still huge.

The labor gap

There is currently an issue with cybersecurity, since the numbers are not getting to the right amount just yet.

Spots are always available, given the different branches in cybersecurity and the high demand that is within every single one of them. Despite the lack of staff in many related companies, the people who are hired in the end are mostly men.

Despite that women’s education in technology-related studies is higher than that of men, only 11% of the workforce in the cybersecurity industry are women, from which only 2% percent of them have a manager position.

This is still happening despite the many efforts done to increase that participation, yet the labor gap keeps getting bigger.

In the United States alone, women are only 20% of the total workforce for cybersecurity and IT.

Being a power itself, one would normally hope for the numbers to be higher; however, this is still a very common scenario worldwide.

We also know that there is more and more cyberthreats happening in the world every day, and right now there is not enough staff to prevent, identify and remediate them in the correct way.

Why does this happen?

The labor gap can be explained in 4 simple factors:

  • Perception

Saying that “IT is not for women” is a thing of the past. Initiatives like the Women in Cybersecurity society founded by Lisa Kearney proves otherwise.

One of the reasons why there aren’t enough women working in IT is because people still have the perception that information security is “only for men”.

  • Lack of education

There is very few information about careers related to cybersecurity at schools and basic education institutions. The reason behind this is not quite clear, but what we do know is that educating the children and future members of society about cybersecurity goes beyond a computer class once a week.

Children’s minds are like a sponge, ready to absorb all <that knowledge. It is important to provide the highest amount of knowledge as possible, so that they can make a wise choice about their career and their future.

  • Recognition

Besides the fact that there are few women representing the IT world, their recognition is almost non-existent. It is also important to recognize that it has been improving from time to time, but we can still see the lack of support and recognition towards the milestones of women in IT.

If we can be sure to recognize these women for their work, we could have role models for the generations to come. That way, women who are interested in pursuing an IT-related career can have someone to look up to.

  • Communication

It’s important to talk more frequently about the job and career opportunities in IT. No one would be able to know about the many possibilities if it is not communicated in an efficient and intense way.

Many people don’t have knowledge about their abilities. However, with the right guide and education, they might be able to accomplish great things. And women are not the exception.

There are not many resources that communicate these opportunities, which creates a higher demand in IT education, which can be implemented in schools and/or universities. That way, students can have more options to choose from.

Challenges that women face when working in IT

Even though companies are looking for more women to work in IT-related jobs, the ones who are already working face an ever-bigger challenge when they are already “on the other side”.

Labor discrimination is no secret and is evident that IT companies are not an exception. In Canada, there was a study that showed that 50% of women working in TIC (Technology of Information Communication) would quit their jobs during the first four years.

There is not enough support to the wave of women who wish to occupy those spots.

This can also happen because there is an expectation as to what the challenges they would have to face, and sometime the dispute for inequality can be even more exhausting than the job itself.

The supply of women who study a career related to this field tend to be lower, but also women who are already working in it suffer the consequences of a type of discrimination that has been happening for years now.

However, just until recently people are starting to take it seriously.

 See also: What is Cyber Visibility

The potential

It’s important to understand that women’s potential in cybersecurity is huge and should not be underestimated since their abilities are outstanding at times in a crowd full of only men.

This doesn’t mean that it is all a competition to see who’s better, but more about understanding how we can both work together and put our abilities to give better results.

Something that companies may have not though about, is the fact that opening an opportunity to recruit more women in cybersecurity would imply an added value that may have never been discovered before.

Diversity plays an important role when we talk about ability. And the numbers don’t lie:

Female executive in the Fortune 1000 generated three times the performance than S&P 500-type companies mostly directed by men. This means that having more women by the side of cybersecurity companies is not bad at all and could actually give very positive results.

What can we do about it?

One way in which we can react to this gap is to help companies to have more diverse and inclusive policies when hiring IT staff.

We must also have what we call an “open mind” to be able to understand that both genders should be evaluated for their abilities and not solely for their pronouns or origin.

Likewise, is also important to consider not only university-level titles, but also the experience and certifications that they have in different platforms (if necessary).

We need to create awareness about how cybersecurity is not only about hacking, intruders, monitoring or malware. We must educate users regarding security awareness, and the risk assessment, analysis and management.

There needs to be a discussion about how diversity and combined abilities and capabilities can not only bring more customers but will also show the effectiveness of teamwork and the combination of men and women cybersecurity abilities in the long run.

More women need to jump into the IT wagon, but there are several obstacles to overcome and barriers that we need to break little by little. That way, there is no judging when trying to foray in the market.

That can take a little time and effort, but if we don’t start now, that task can get a lot more tedious.

Thank you for reading! We hope you liked it.

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Written by: My20it21ch.

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