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Women Decide Against Cybersecurity Career Aged 16

Young women in Europe, the US and Israel have decided before they are even 16 years old that they don’t want a career in cybersecurity, according to a new study from Kaspersky Lab.

The Russian AV firm interviewed 4000 young people from the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Israel and the Netherlands to compile its report.

It revealed that young men were much more likely than women to choose mathematics (49% vs 36%) and IT (21% vs 7%) as their preferred subjects at school.

What’s more, just 20% of respondents were clear on what a cybersecurity expert does, falling to just 16% for women.

There’s clearly still a perception and awareness issue here, evidenced by the fact that a third of young women interviewed said they thought IT security professionals are 'geeks', while a quarter think they are 'nerds'.

In total, 78% of young women surveyed said they’ve never considered a career in cybersecurity.

With just 11% of the cybersecurity professionals currently women and a shortfall of 1.8 million practitioners predicted by 2022, there’s a pressing need to change perceptions and encourage more into the industry.

However, this is going to be tough, especially as half of those surveyed said they’d prefer to work in an environment that has an equal male/female split.

“Helping women to develop the right skills at an education level certainly has an important role to play in overcoming barriers to entry, and a lot of previous reports into STEM subject uptake have discussed this at length,” argued Kaspersky Lab general manager, Adam Maskatiya.

“But we believe there’s also a need to change the industry’s image as a whole, and promote the careers within. An important part of that process is making the roles more visible and more enticing, and debunking the stereotype of IT security geeks sitting in a dark room hacking computers.”

The news comes as Israeli start-up Morphisec announced its inaugural Women in Cybersecurity Scholarships program this week in the US and Israel.

It's open to female students currently taking degree courses in cybersecurity, information assurance, information security, information systems security and other disciplines of computer science.

“Cybersecurity is a great career for women,” said program founder and Morphisec VP of products, Netta Schmeidler.

“The work is demanding and fast-paced but inherently flexible as to work day structure as well as types of work available: from deep research to sales, marketing and high level management, and the industry needs more women. Their diverse voices, viewpoints and opinions help drive innovation, improvement and resilience.”

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