(ISC)2 Foundation Offers Cybersecurity Scholarships for Women

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The (ISC)² Foundation has announced that applications for its Women’s Cybersecurity Scholarship program are now open.

The program is offering up to $40,000 towards women’s scholarships in the field.

The aim of the initiative is to help bridge the skills gap and improve diversity within the ranks of information security professionals—a realm that has seen far too few women enter the field. The Foundation’s recent Global Information Security Workforce Study research report, Women in Security: Wisely Positioned for the Future of InfoSec 2015, found that women represent only approximately 10% of the current cybersecurity workforce.

Notably, that’s the same percentage as it was two years ago. The report states that while the sheer number of women in information security is increasing, as a percentage, the female population is achieving the same rate of growth as the profession as a whole.

Placing these InfoSec gender percentages into a broader context, the survey also found that women are, in general, underrepresented in senior leadership and information technology roles. In terms of senior leadership, in a 2015 global survey of senior executives, an estimated 22% of senior leadership roles are held by women.

Regionally, there is also material variation. Eastern Europe ranks the highest at 35% of senior leadership roles held by women. Developed APAC is the lowest region at 13%. The percentage of women in senior leadership roles in North America and the European Union are 21% and 26%, respectively.

Regina Moran, CEO, Fujitsu UK & Ireland: “Deloitte’s predictions on the continuing shortage of women in IT are bad news for our industry. I believe strongly that gender balance isn’t a ‘nice to have’, it’s a must have. And it is only through a diverse workforce that tech companies like Fujitsu will be able to continue to innovate and grow. Women make up a large proportion of our customers both professionally and personally—so neglecting women in the workforce will be a costly mistake.

"We must increase the skills pipeline of women in IT...We must find, encourage and give a voice to female role models at every level of tech organizations, to provide inspiration for younger (and older) women."

She added, ". . . it is only through a diverse workforce that tech companies like Fujitsu will be able to continue to innovate and grow."

There is no shortage of demand for skills: As it stands, 62% of survey respondents in the Global Information Security Workforce Study—from a sample of nearly 14,000 qualified security professionals worldwide—reported that their organizations have too few security professionals. Healthcare and education are the two verticals where the shortfall is most keenly felt—76% of respondents from each of these sectors report being understaffed in terms of security.

If the industry is to address the projected global shortfall of 1.5 million cybersecurity professionals by 2020, encouraging more women into cybersecurity will remain a top priority to bring the much-needed new talent to the sector, (ISC)2 noted.

Applications for Women’s Scholarship are open until 15 March 2016. Other scholarships available via the foundation include Faculty Education and Exam Vouchers, which are also open until 15 March, and the Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships, open for application between 15 February to 3 May.

"In some quarters, there can still be a stigma about jobs in IT, with a view that they can be dull and purely technical, but that is simply not true," Moran said. "Technology touches every aspect of human life, and for its future success we must ensure that both men and women are aware of the exciting and diverse career paths available.”

Photo © Rommel Canias

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