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Women in Cybersecurity: Less than Half Have IT Background

Less than half of female information security professionals working today have a background in IT or computer science, highlighting the need for employers to keep an open mind when hiring, according to new industry research.

As the name suggests, the Women in Cybersecurity report is based on interviews with 300 female IT security professionals, and aims to challenge perceptions and encourage more into the industry.

Over a third (36%) have been working in cybersecurity for over a decade, while over half (53%) have been doing so for over five years.

Respondents came from a variety of backgrounds including compliance, psychology, internal audit, entrepreneurship, sales, art, and more – proving that organizations need to keep their options open when vetting prospective candidates.

The number one skill respondents claimed they brought to their role was communication (74%), followed by "getting things done" (70%), multi-tasking (65%), and "bringing a fresh perspective" (62%).

Report author and Cobalt vice president, Caroline Wong, argued that diversity should be encouraged in the industry as “it drives innovation, it makes us smarter, and it has a positive impact on learning”.

Yet to achieve true diversity, hiring managers need to broaden their search for candidates, she claimed.

“Diverse teams have better results, plain and simple. In an industry with a major talent shortage, it’s critical that hiring managers be very engaged in the hiring process and thoughtful about exactly what types of skills are needed for each particular role,” she told Infosecurity Magazine.

Given the global cybersecurity industry faces severe skills shortages and gaps, the need to encourage more women into the sector is more acute than ever.

Women comprise just 11% of the global cybersecurity workforce, with total industry shortages expected to reach 1.8m by 2022, according to the Center for Cyber Safety and Education and (ISC)².

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