Published on November 9, 2023, 5:53 am

The global shortage of cybersecurity professionals is becoming increasingly concerning. According to estimates from the InfoSec Institute, there is a current worldwide staffing shortage of around three million cybersecurity professionals, and this number is expected to rise to 3.5 million by 2021. Unfortunately, it seems that the shortage is only going to worsen as demand for infosec resources continues to grow.

Within the industry, women are greatly underrepresented. A study conducted by Frost & Sullivan in 2013 found that women accounted for only 10-12% of the global cybersecurity workforce. However, there has been some progress since then, with a research article from Cybercrime Magazine in 2019 concluding that women now make up around 20% of the global infosec payroll.

Interestingly, many individuals in leadership positions, including those in the C-suite and HR departments, recognize the importance of addressing the security staffing shortage and view women as part of the solution. However, there are still challenges preventing these positions from being filled and discouraging women from pursuing careers in cybersecurity.

Vicki Batka, senior vice president of sales for APJ at Trellix, highlights an impending burnout faced by cybersecurity professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure organizations’ safety and security. She emphasizes that simply hiring more talent won’t be enough; we also need to train and educate individuals about the exciting career opportunities in cybersecurity.

Some suggest outsourcing or bringing in external parties as a solution to address the internal skills shortage. However, Vicki Batka raises concerns about accountability when it comes to outsourcing cybersecurity responsibilities. Who should be held responsible for any data breaches? Who will fix them? Outsourcing may seem like a risky strategy since board members are usually held accountable for risk and compliance.

To establish an atmosphere conducive to encouraging more women with the right disposition to pursue careers in cybersecurity or security-related fields, various stakeholders must take action. Vicki Batka suggests working with government agencies, schools, and STEM programs to make cybersecurity education more engaging and accessible. It’s the industry’s responsibility to make cybersecurity a field that is fun to learn and easy to enter.

When it comes to desirable qualities for building a career in cybersecurity, Vicki Batka emphasizes the importance of skills in mathematics and science, problem-solving abilities, and a fondness for puzzles and games. Additionally, having a willingness to learn and adapt is crucial because cybersecurity spans across various domains.

Encouraging more women to join the cybersecurity field requires starting early by educating young girls through STEM programs at school. It’s also essential to have role models who can inspire women while dispelling stereotypes about appearance or qualifications. Breaking down barriers and demonstrating that achieving success in cybersecurity is attainable are key factors.

To promote greater representation of women in leadership roles within the cybersecurity industry, organizations need to address self-limiting beliefs among women when considering job opportunities. Women should have confidence in their capabilities and be willing to take on challenges. Leaders must engage in conversations with their team members about goals and steps they can take to reach those goals.

Vicki Batka advises aspiring women looking for careers in tech and security industries to put themselves out there but be genuine when seeking assistance from others. Being honest about aspirations and leveraging tools like LinkedIn and personal networks can be beneficial.

Overall, addressing the shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals requires a collective effort from organizations, governments, academia, and society as a whole. By creating an inclusive environment that fosters diversity and inspiring future generations of women through education initiatives and supportive networks, we can break the glass ceiling in cybersecurity.

To listen more about breaking the cybersecurity glass barrier directly from Vicki Batka herself, click on the PodChat player provided in the article.

For further discussion on this topic, feel free to read more on FutureCIO’s website: “PodChats for FutureCISO: Breaking the cybersecurity glass barrier.”


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