#IWD2021: Pandemic Fails to Shatter Glass Ceiling for Women in Cyber

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The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have had a positive impact on the careers of women working in cybersecurity, although still too few are reaching senior positions, according to two new studies.

A Tessian report released to coincide with International Women’s Day today was compiled from interviews with 202 women in cybersecurity roles and over 1000 current or recently graduated university students in the US and UK.

Just 9% of cyber-professionals claimed the pandemic had negatively affected their career, with almost half (49%) saying it had impacted them positively.

That seems to be down in part to the strong role cyber has played in supporting organizations through the crisis, especially the rapid pivot to remote working. Some 89% of respondents said they felt secure in their jobs and even more (94%) claimed they’d had to take on new hires in 2020.

However, beyond job security, there’s still much to do. Separate Eskenzi PR and Marketing research found that just 10% of board positions and 16% of management roles in the industry are held by women.

The research was compiled by studying the websites of 138 companies from the Cybersecurity Ventures Hot 150.

When asked what would encourage more women into the industry, the larges number of respondents to the Tessian study pointed to equal pay (47%), followed by more female role models (44%), a gender-balanced workforce (43%) and a greater emphasis on STEM subjects in schools (41%).

Although most younger women polled said they found the industry “important” (87%) and “interesting” (73%), just a quarter (26%) of 18-25-year-olds were likely to consider a career in the industry, versus 42% of men.

Research from the Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec) released last week found that most (57%) women in cybersecurity believe it will take a decade before true equality exists in the workplace, and a fifth (20%) don’t think it will ever happen.

“Greater awareness in schools is critical but businesses, too, can help build a more diverse talent pool for the future through initiatives like hiring more diverse candidates at junior levels and developing them into senior roles, and creating platforms for role models to share their stories,” argued Tessian chief financial officer, Sabrina Castiglione.

“We won’t solve the gender gap overnight, but acting now and playing the long game will have enormous benefits – both for businesses and society.”

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