Are women better at Cyber Security than men? We don’t really know, do we? There are simply not enough women in the cyber security sector to be able to evaluate performance, and there are many reasons for that. What we do know is that there are plenty men in the industry who are doing a terribly bad job. Just have a look at the daily news about hacks and data breaches all around the world in this male dominated industry.
Education is major reason for the lack of women in cyber security, because unfortunately, girls are still not encouraged and supported enough to start an education in any technical area. Society influences parents, parents influence children. Parents who have been influenced by their own parents and society with the classical role models for girls, will have to be very aware of that influence before they can break that spell. Teachers who have been influenced by that spell need to also be on the alert to break the same spell. Future employers, recruiters, peers, all have to be changing their own mindset and influences of upbringing and society before they can break that spell so girls will finally get what they deserve. A fair chance, equal rights and the right to chose the education and career they aspire.
The Cyber Security sector could have made a big difference, could have been a change leader in breaking down these walls which were built by generations of society telling young girls that they don’t belong in technical field and shouldn’t have a career in the first place. The Cyber Security industry is a relatively young industry and not burdened by decades of traditions and culture. Unfortunately, the Cyber Security industry is an offspring of the Information Technology industry, and there we see the same male/female ratios as in the rest of the world. Universities and colleges still do not have a 50/50 mix in technical fields, so the flow of ladies entering the Cyber Security industry will continue to be too low to get the mix we need, the mix our female colleagues deserve.
Looking back at last year’s college mix during my lectures, I definitely see a slight improvement compared to 10 years ago but it is still only marginal. As my mother used to say “twice not enough is still not enough”. Simple logic will make clear that as long as we don’t have the proper mix of male and female students in our technical and scientific education, we will also not achieve the proper mix in our professional environment so we still have a long road ahead of us.
There is also good news, of course. Companies and universities are creating programs and incentives to support female candidates to join the industry. One great example of that is NTT Ltd. with their focus on inclusion and equality throughout the organization, and a great initiative to recognize women in the Cyber Security Industry in their Information Security World 2019 events. Well done Kai Grunwitz and team!
Back to the original question. Are women better at Cyber Security? As long as we ask ourselves this question, we are basically doing the exact same thing society has been doing for centuries by showing that men would be better at certain professions. Women are human beings and individuals. Some individuals are good at certain things and others are good at something else. This isn’t about being good or being better, this is about having the same right at being good or bad in Cyber Security, or anything else a woman aspires to be in her life.
This is about the right of my daughter and your daughter, granddaughter, sister, mother, girlfriend, wife, female friend, of every woman on this planet to be who she aspires to be. And that includes the Cyber Security industry!