How to Encourage Young Women to Start a Cyber Security Career

According to Cybersecurity Guide, there is a shortage of at least three million cyber security specialists around the world. The cyber security certification agency claims that the unemployment rate of cyber security experts on average is zero. It has been at that level since 2011.


Women have always been underrepresented in the field of cyber security — and generally in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. However, the gender discrimination issue of employment cannot be the cause of this supply-demand gap. Otherwise, we would find unemployed female cyber security professionals, which isn’t apparent from the existing data.


Great support from KOMINFO and private enterprises


Governments around the world have spent decades ensuring equal work opportunities for men and women. In Indonesia, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (KOMINFO) have consistently supported universities by developing events to encourage student extracurricular participation in the hopes to close the skill gap.


From the private sector, Xynexis Born to Protect has hosted nationwide competitions for thousands of students and young professionals. Yet, the number of female participants has consistently come in short compared to their male counterparts.


The gender imbalance is a complex issue with cultural roots


Around the world, there still exists a cultural belief that men are better suited in the STEM field. Boys are encouraged to become curious about technology, and will receive praise when they tinker with electronics, tools and computes.


In economically developing countries such as Indonesia, the number of girls believing that it is not necessary to pursue higher education and to become a specialist (in any field) is still disturbingly high. Peer and familial pressures discourage girls to do so; the bottom line is the fear that such pursuit would lead women to neglect their traditional role in society.


Deep reflection about modern gender roles is necessary


An uplifting study suggests that Indonesian women are beginning to feel less societal pressure related to earning a higher income than men. Female leaders in various family and corporate businesses have shown that it is possible to manage career and family obligations, provided that their husbands are flexible in partially taking over “traditionally female” roles such as childcare and household work.


Encouraging young women to enter the cyber security field should not begin at university level, but rather from a very young age. Beliefs that young girls hold about themselves and their role in society will carry into adulthood, and will help determine which career paths they will take.


Efforts to facilitate all students to consider careers in cyber security are incredibly important. The door should remain open at all times. Until all girls are confident enough to enter the door of opportunity, we will continue to see a skill demand gap in the cyber security field.

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