Why CSOs Need to Hire More Women


Tech Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for IT pros

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Closing the gender gap will be essential if cybersecurity teams are to meet their needs and be more successful.

Article 3 Minutes
Why CSOs Need to Hire More Women

IT has long been a male-dominated profession, but if organizations are to be successful in the current era, this needs to change. Companies that embrace diversity are much more likely to be successful, and this is as true in the tech department as anywhere else.

Closing the gender gap should therefore be a top priority for any tech executives. One area where this will become increasingly important in the coming years is when it comes to cybersecurity specialists.

Meeting the cybersecurity skills gap

Security is set to be a key priority for businesses in the coming years as threats become more complex and commonplace. Yet at present, many companies are struggling with a severe skills gap that's preventing them from finding the best talent.

For example, (ISC)2 indicates there’s currently a shortfall of around four million cybersecurity professionals around the world, which means organizations will find themselves up against stiff competition when it comes to attracting staff. In the UK alone, government figures indicate some 653,000 businesses (48% of all firms) have a basic cybersecurity skills gap.

Efforts to improve this by encouraging more women to join the sector have been making some progress, though exact figures vary. For example, a separate study also by (ISC)2 suggested around a quarter of cybersecurity pros are female (24%), while the UK's National Cyber Security Centre reported the number to be almost one in three (31%). However, it's clear that there's still a long way to go.

Companies that don't consider women are missing out on a highly-educated workforce. According to (ISC)2, more than half of women working in cyber security have a postgraduate degree (52%), compared with just 44% of male employees, while they're also more likely to reach top-level positions.

The benefits of a more diverse workforce

Addressing the skills gap shouldn’t be the only reason for aiming to get more women into the cybersecurity workforce. More diverse teams also deliver better results. McKinsey found that diverse companies have more engaged employees and face fewer difficulties hiring and retaining the best talent.

This also translates into better overall performance. Figures from Gartner, for instance, suggest gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperform less inclusive teams by an average of 50%, while three-quarters of organizations with frontline decision-making teams that reflect a diverse and inclusive culture are expected to exceed their financial targets through to 2022.

One key advantage of having a diverse group of people around the table means you have different perspectives, which will be vital in tackling the next generation of cyberattacks. At a time when cybersecurity teams are facing more threats than ever, this could be the difference between keeping a company safe and falling victim to hackers.

Addressing the misconceptions about women in cybersecurity

One of the biggest problems in getting more women in cybersecurity teams is overcoming perceptions that these roles aren't for them. A big part of this comes down to shifting cultural attitudes and highlighting the many different roles and opportunities that are available.

Deloitte recently launched a campaign to boost awareness of women in cyber and attract more diverse skill sets into the profession. Emily Mossburg, Global Cyber Leader at the group, stated:

We have to expand the vernacular used today around careers so that when asked, 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' the answers include roles like ethical hacker, data privacy professional and cyber strategist. We have to break down the common misconceptions about the type of work that exists for cyber professionals.


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