Cybersecurity careers: Where are the women?

Ratheon studies paint pretty ugly picture of millennials in the cybersecurity realm

There is a serious and growing gap between men and women when it comes to choosing a cybersecurity career – then again there’s also a serious disinterest in the field altogether from millennials.

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Those were the chief findings of a global study issued by Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) this week that noted: In the U.S., 74% of young women and 57% of young men said schools did not offer the skills that are needed to pursue a degree in computer sciences.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Globally, 47% of men say they are aware of the typical range of responsibilities and job tasks involved in the cyber profession, compared to only 33% of women.
  • In the U.S., 67% of men and 77% of women said no high school or secondary school teacher, guidance or career counselor ever mentioned the idea of a cybersecurity career.
  • Globally, 62% of men and 75% of women said no secondary or high school computer classes offered the skills to help them pursue a career in cybersecurity.
  • Globally, 52% of women, compared to 39% of young men, said they felt no cybersecurity programs or activities were available to them.
  • While many young adults are generally unaware of that does not necessarily equate to meaning they have no interest in the field. Compared with a year ago, 28% more millennial say they are more likely to choose a career to make the Internet safer for users.

"It's just woeful that we don't have anywhere close to the number of women we need in the cyber workforce. Cybersecurity today is masculine, and defense is as well. We want to drive to change that," said Paul Crichard, head of cyber intelligence for Raytheon UK in a statement.

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"Not only are we missing obvious opportunity to remediate a global shortfall of cybersecurity workers, but we're also seeing the problem compounded by leaving women behind when it comes to cybersecurity education, programs and careers," said Valecia Maclin, program director of cybersecurity and special missions at Raytheon in a statement. "It's critical that public and private partnerships focus on encouraging young girls to foster an interest in science, technology, engineering and math, so that more women are prepared to enter this burgeoning field and help create a diverse, talented workforce."

The study: “Securing Our Future: Closing the Cyber Talent Gap” was conducted by Zogby Analytics from July29 to Aug. 10, 2015. The responses were generated from a survey of 3,871 adults in Australia, Estonia, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, U.K., United Arab Emirates and the U.S. from ages 18 to 26.

While a career in cybersecurity may not have been pushed as a profession, it also seems there may be some serious awareness issues about the overall issues of online security amongst millennials in general.

A previous Ratheon study of 4,000 young adults ages 18 to 26 notes these disturbing facts:

  • The survey indicated a lack of current events knowledge is a contributing factor – 84% of respondents said they hadn’t read any news about cyber attacks in the previous month, and 67% said they hadn’t heard about any in the past year.
  • Lack of awareness isn’t the only issue, however, as even the 44% of respondents who were victims of online fraud, identity theft or malware infection themselves said they didn’t change their behaviors afterward.
  • 66% of young adults said they used public, no-password Wi-Fi in the last month.
  • The same percentage said they had not updated their outdated operating system or browser software.
  • 51% said they’d plugged a USB device given to them by someone else into their personal computers.
  • 55% said their passwords had not been recently updated, and the passwords they use didn’t meet requirements to be considered “strong.”

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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