In order to be a high-performing cyber security professional, one has to have the right technical knowledge or skills, an attitude for teamwork, the sensitivity as well as creativity in solving problems.
Note that these are not gender-exclusive traits, yet women are still underrepresented in the field of cyber security. On average, there is one woman in the field for every eight men, although in some countries the ratio is unbelievably skewed to one woman for every 20 men.
More than company diversity and inclusion
While there has been great enthusiasm for gender equality at the workplace, the benefit of solving this problem is more than simply to become a great example for a modern, diverse and socially positive company. Companies should ignore such superficial pursuits, and see the real benefits of employing female executives and leaders in cyber security.
Studies have shown that female cyber security professionals are able to focus on areas that male professionals might overlook. For example, female professionals who have come from a business or social sciences background (in which the degree is earned by mostly female graduates) are more likely to align decision-making with the business long-term vision.
Women in cyber security are likely to put high priority on training and education, to increase the team’s collective knowledge. In contrast, men have a tendency to be more competitive and to take advantage of having more knowledge than their peers. Female leaders in the field also have a distinct conflict-resolution strategy that may be more effective for certain team dynamics.
Putting technical skills on equal ground as soft skills
Cyber security firms often miss out on these opportunities because of a preconceived bias towards what working in the field traditionally looks like, and hiring for ‘typical’ traits of a cyber security professional, which are very often unfair.
Hiring “tech geeks” who tend to spend more time with computers and less time for social mingling may give the company a technical advantage. In contrast, many of the female counterparts are attentive to their social environment, but too many companies see this split attention as a weakness.
In consequence, security teams tend to be heavy on the technical side, and would often lack professionals who are balanced and well-rounded generalists who can connect with the stakeholders’ concerns.
To unlock the human resource potential in the cyber security industry, Xynexis International has worked together with Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and dozens of universities to invite students to participate in a national competition, the Born To Protect program.
It is a breath of fresh air to see many young bright women take part and actively seek opportunities to become contributors in this exciting world. We urgently need more young women like them, and there is great demand for women in cyber security.