cyber security

Increasing the number of women working in cybersecurity could boost the UK economy by £12.6 billion, according to a new report from Tessian, the human layer security company.

The report has also revealed that if the gender pay were to close, and women’s salaries became equal to those of their male colleagues, the UK economy could benefit from a further £4.4 billion.

Tessian has highlighted the importance of encouraging more women into cybersecurity, but recognises the barriers that are currently stopping this from happening. After surveying female professionals working in cybersecurity in the UK and the US, Tessian reveals that a lack of gender balance was less of a barrier to entry in the UK, compared to the US:

  • 82% of female cybersecurity professionals in the US believe that cybersecurity has a gender bias problem versus 49% of those in the UK.
  • Just 12% of UK respondents say a lack of gender balance was a challenge at the start of their career versus 38% of those in the US.
  • US respondents were also three times as likely to believe that a more gender-balanced workforce would encourage more women to pursue roles in cybersecurity.

The research also sought to identify other factors which are discouraging women from joining the cybersecurity industry, and found that 42% of women think that a skills gap exists due to the fact that the industry isn’t considered ‘exciting’ or ‘cool’. A similar percentage of women (43%) also noted that there is a lack of awareness and knowledge surrounding cybersecurity which females had to face at the start of their career. Not only this, but just 53% believe that their organisation is doing enough to attract and retain women into cybersecurity roles.

Sabrina Castiglione, senior executive at Tessian said, “For organisations to successfully recruit more women into security roles, they need to understand what’s discouraging them from signing up beyond just gender bias. We need to make women in cybersecurity more visible. We need to tell their stories and raise awareness of their roles and experiences. And once through the door, managers need to clearly show women the opportunities available to them to progress and develop their careers.”

When asked what would encourage more women to consider a career in cybersecurity, over half (51%) said there needs to be more accurate representations of the industry in the media. Respondents ranked this as the number one way to encourage more women into the industry, followed by a gender-balanced workforce (45%), cybersecurity curriculum in universities (43%) and equal pay (28%).

In the report, Tessian spoke with Shamla Naidoo, former CISO at IBM, who said, “To many people, cybersecurity equates to – and is limited to – someone in a hoodie bent over a keyboard in a dark room. That’s not the case at all. If we don’t expand beyond that, we’ll lose out on even more people in the industry.”

In addition to the huge economic benefits, there are many other rewards for women working in cybersecurity. 93% of the women surveyed in the report stated that they either feel secure of very secure in their roles, with over half (56%) believing that cybersecurity is one of the most significant industries today due to cyber threats continuously becoming more advanced.

Castiglione added, “The future of cybersecurity needs diversity. 2019 was the worst year on record for data breaches, with 61% of organisations reporting a breach as a result of human error or malicious activity. With data breaches rising year on year, and with cyber threats continually evolving, we need different ideas and approaches to solving security problems if we are going to keep people and data safe.”