Women, especially in Africa, are highly underrepresented or for me more or less misrepresented also in the field of Information Technology but particularly Cyber security. According to stats, In 2017, women’s share in the cyber security field in Africa was 8%, compared to 48% in the general workforce.
Breaking it down, In Ghana, there is a 5% representation of women in the field of Cyber security. This is a cause to worry and an opportunity to dissect this fallout.
The problem is more acute and negatively inclined out Ghana. In 2018, women accounted for 10% of the cybersecurity workforce in the Asia-Pacific region, 9% in Africa, 8% in Latin America, 7% in Europe and 5% in the Middle East.
Now as if that was not enough, Women are even less well represented in the upper echelons of security leadership. Only 1% of female internet security workers are in senior management positions.
I am not saying there is under-representation of women in I.T, because over the years women in I.T have adequately been represented and already doing serious exploits in their field. But let us zoom the lens and better focus on Cyber security.
I study online crime and security issues facing consumers, organizations and nations. In my research, I have found that internet security requires strategies beyond just the normal technical solutions. Women’s representation is important because women tend to bring is a different viewpoint and scope from different perspectives and experiences that can translate and transform the general approach of dealing with Cyber risk or security.
General Perception and assertions
Low representation of women in internet security is linked to the broader problem of their low representation in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Only 30% of scientists and engineers in the U.S. are women.Nir Kshetri Professor of Management, University of North Carolina – Greensboro
Now bringing it downtown Ghana, where a lot of people share the societal view that internet security is a job that men do, though there is nothing and absolutely nothing inherent in gender or sex that predisposes men to be more interested in or more adept at cyber security.
In addition, the industry mistakenly gives potential employees the impression that only technical skills matter in cybersecurity, which can give women the impression that the field is overly technical or even boring. Maybe true or not entirely but we all know security is not entirely technical.
Organizations often fail to try to recruit women to work in cybersecurity. According to a survey conducted by IT security company Tessian, only about half of the respondents said that their organizations were doing enough to recruit women into cybersecurity roles. – Now this was a survey that was not carried out in Ghana or even Africa but i chipped it in to make the deductions that even in the so called developed countries the polls and statistics clearly shows wrong doing in the name of “Its too technical” , Then how much more Africa(Ghana) where we do not even have the statistics or figures to make deductions or computations from,
Gender bias in job ads further discourages women from applying. Online cybersecurity job ads often lack gender-neutral language.
If They Are Good for Business Then They Are Good for Security!
Boosting women’s involvement in information security makes both security and business sense. Female leaders in this area tend to prioritize important areas that males often overlook. This is partly due to their backgrounds. Forty-four percent of women in information security fields have degrees in business and social sciences, compared to 30% of men.
Female internet security professionals are also adept at selecting partner organizations to develop secure software. Women tend to pay more attention to partner organizations’ qualifications and personnel, and they assess partners’ ability to meet contractual obligations.
Increasing women’s participation in cybersecurity is a business issue as well as a gender issue. According to an Ernst & Young report, by 2028 women will control 75% of discretionary consumer spending worldwide. Security considerations like encryption, fraud detection and biometrics are becoming important in consumers’ buying decisions.
Product designs require a trade-off between cybersecurity and usability. In as much as security is gradually taking usability out, Female cybersecurity professionals can make better-informed decisions about such trade-offs for products that are targeted at female customers.
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Attracting women to cybersecurity
If you ask me i will say attracting more women to cybers ecurity requires governments, nonprofit organizations, professional and trade associations and the private sector to work together – And i repeat, Private Sector!. Public-private partnership projects could help solve the problem in the long run.
One example is Israel’s Shift community, previously known as the CyberGirlz program, which is jointly financed by the country’s Defense Ministry, the Rashi Foundation and Start-Up Nation Central. It identifies high school girls with aptitude, desire and natural curiosity to learn IT and and helps them develop those skills.
The girls participate in hackathons and training programs, and get advice, guidance and support from female mentors. Some of the mentors are from elite technology units of the country’s military. The participants learn hacking skills, network analysis and the Python programming language. They also practice simulating cyber-attacks to find potential vulnerabilities. By 2018, about 2,000 girls participated in the CyberGirlz Club and the CyberGirlz Community.
In 2017, cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks teamed up with the Girl Scouts of the USA to develop cybersecurity badges. The goal is to foster cybersecurity knowledge and develop interest in the profession. The curriculum includes the basics of computer networks, cyberattacks and online safety.
Professional associations can also foster interest in cybersecurity and help women develop relevant knowledge.
Attracting more women to the cyber security field requires a range of efforts. Cyber security job ads should be written so that female professionals feel welcome to apply. Recruitment efforts should focus on academic institutions with high female enrollment.
Corporations should ensure that female employees see cybersecurity as a good option for internal career changes. And governments should work with the private sector and academic institutions to get young girls interested in cybersecurity.
Increasing women’s participation in cybersecurity is good for women, good for business and good for society.
Please keep up with the discussions by leaving your comments on what you also think can be a way number of women in Cyber security can increase.
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