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Minority Cyber-Pros Are Better Educated but Paid Less

When it comes to diversity in the cybersecurity workforce, it turns out that minority representation is actually higher than in the broader US workforce as a whole (26% vs. 21%). However, these professionals are disproportionately found in non-management roles, and they tend to earn lower salaries while being more likely to hold a master’s degree or higher.

According to the just-released Innovation Through Inclusion report from (ISC)², cybersecurity professionals of color earn $115,000 on average, while the overall US cybersecurity workforce average is $122,000. Similarly, just 23% of minority cybersecurity professionals hold a role of director or above, compared to 30% of their Caucasian peers. This is despite the fact that 62% of minorities have obtained a master’s degree or higher, compared to 50% of professionals who identified as White.

Also, disappointingly, 32% of cybersecurity professionals of color said they have experienced discrimination in the workplace.

“While minority representation within the cybersecurity field is slightly higher than the overall U.S. minority workforce, our study did reveal that racial and ethnic minorities tend to hold non-managerial positions, and pay discrepancies, especially for minority women, is a challenge,” said (ISC)² CEO David Shearer. “In order to build strong, adequately staffed cybersecurity teams, employers – and the cybersecurity profession as a whole – must make cybersecurity a rewarding and welcoming career for everyone. Understanding the challenges our profession faces related to diversity is a critical first step to accomplishing that goal and ultimately addressing the widening cybersecurity workforce gap.”

Based on survey responses from 9,500 U.S. cybersecurity professionals, the study also found that men of color are behind their Caucasian male peers in salary by $3,000.

Interestingly, the report also found that 17% of the cybersecurity workforce who identify as a minority are female, proportionally exceeding overall female representation (14%) by a margin of 3 percentage points. However, women of color make an average of $10,000 less than Caucasian males and $6,000 less than Caucasian females.

In addition to a higher average salary, Caucasian workers were more likely to have received a salary increase within the past year, as compared to other races and ethnicities.

“The under-participation by large segments of our society represents a loss of opportunity for individuals, a loss of talent in the workforce and a loss of creativity in shaping the future of cybersecurity,” said Aric Perminter, president of the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP). “Not only is it a basic equity issue, but it threatens our global economic viability as a nation. This research underscores the importance of our mission. The ICMCP Educational Security Operations Centers (ESOCs) provide innovative, effective and timely solutions to the cybersecurity demands of employers – from cyber-ranges and certification training to NICE curriculum and job placement.”

To foster diversity in the workplace, 49% of minority cybersecurity professionals in the survey said mentorship programs are “very important.”

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