By: Callie Guenther
This year’s International Women’s Day 2019 theme is #BalanceforBetter, a direct call-to-action to drive gender parity across the world. This year’s campaign hinges on the motto “the race is on” for a gender-balanced boardroom and gender balance amongst employees and challenges everyone to “lace up your running shoes”.
Cybersecurity is at the heart of protecting our digital economy and society, and at Critical Start we strive to recognize a diverse workforce. We take pride in having grown our female employee rate in Year 1 by 37.5%, and currently boast an 18% female staff, nearly double the industry average. Nonetheless, we are not immune to the gender gap in the cybersecurity field or the challenges it presents.
Balance is not a women’s issue; it’s a business issue, and it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. In recent years, (ISC) 2 Cybersecurity Workforce has identified gender parity as the most critical aspect to reducing the skills shortage within STEM and the cybersecurity industry specifically. Recent study has found that the global skills gap in cybersecurity has grown astronomically and will surpass the three million mark by Q3 2019. This issue does not seem to be making any headway, with more than half of all cybersecurity organizations reporting a business-impacting shortage in skills, year over year.
As the skills gap widens and the cybercrime epidemic worsens ($6 trillion annually by 2021), there’s a critical need to attract and retain talent. With an estimated 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, we can’t afford to let this trend continue. Critical Start is working to close both the skills and gender gaps through specialized training and retention programs, but it’s about more than just improving the percentages; it’s about economics and productivity.
The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report estimates that gender parity could “add an additional $1,750 billion dollars to U.S. GDP and increase global GDP by $5.3 trillion by 2025” (assuming it closed its gender gap for economic participation by 25% over the same period).
Including women in the workforce has a proven track record of being for business, and in cybersecurity, this is crucial. It is no secret that cybercriminals are increasingly inventive and savvy, thus a more diverse cybersecurity team will be essential in facilitating a wider range of perspectives about how to prevent and manage attacks.
Critical Start is proud to be part of the amazing team of women driving this societal shift in cybersecurity and is motivated to support the #BalanceForBetter initiative in 2019 and beyond. Being a party to programs and training that support women is an honor, and we all have the power to make a difference.