Many more men than women are drawn to cybersecurity careers – and the gap is widening dramatically, new survey says
The gap between U.S. young men and women who would consider a career devoted to Internet security is five times what it was a year ago, according to a new survey commissioned by Waltham, MA-based Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) released October 26.
Globally, the disinterest of young adults in cybersecurity careers is epidemic – especially among women, casting doubt on whether the future will see enough qualified professionals working to keep the Internet safe. The annual study, Securing Our Future: Closing the Cyber Talent Gap, indicated that the widening gender gap among young adults oriented towards cybersecurity may signal that young women are being shut out.
“There will be serious implications for the world’s security, safety and economic stability if we don’t figure out how to foster a cybersecurity workforce capable of protecting our information from increasingly harmful cyber threats,” said Jack Harrington, vice president of Cybersecurity and Special Missions for Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business. “We have our work cut out for us to encourage young adults to pursue this profession and to address the widening gender gap – particularly here in the U.S.”
Raytheon and NCSA released the latest results from its annual cyber study to commemorate the 12th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and NCSA each October. Zogby Analytics conducted the survey of nearly 4,000 young adults aged 18-26 across four global regions. The goal was to identify the root causes of the cyber talent gap as part of a shared long-term commitment to building a robust talent pipeline.
Despite growing curiosity about cyber careers, many young adults indicate their education and networking opportunities are not keeping pace with their needs. For example, only 60 percent of survey respondents say a computer was introduced to their classrooms by age nine. Additionally, women appear to be disadvantaged when it comes to networking opportunities, as men were twice as likely as women to have spoken with a cybersecurity professional, according to the study.
“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. “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.”
“There seems to be latent interest in cyber careers, as half of young adults say believing in the mission of their employer is important and 63 percent say making money is important,” said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. “Cybersecurity jobs offer a clear path to both—we just need to do a better job of spreading the word.”
Key findings from the study include:
- Globally, 47 percent of men say they are aware of the typical range of responsibilities and job tasks involved in the cyber profession, compared to only 33 percent of women.
- In the U.S., 67 percent of men and 77 percent of women said no high school or secondary school teacher, guidance or career counselor ever mentioned the idea of a cybersecurity career.
- Globally, 62 percent of men and 75 percent of women said no secondary or high school computer classes offered the skills to help them pursue a career in cybersecurity.
- Globally, 52 percent of women, compared to 39 percent of young men, said they felt no cybersecurity programs or activities were available to them.
For more detail and analysis of the survey findings, please visit http://www.RaytheonCyber.com/TalentGap to view reports, infographics and video.
Source: Raytheon Company