Despite recent census results indicating that women comprise 45% of the working population across all professional industries, and 28% of the technology industry, according to figures released by ASIAL those numbers are closer to 10% in the cybersecurity industry.
There have been steps taken to redress this – with a heightened focus on encouraging female students to engage in STEM programs throughout their school years, for example. However, certain issues still seem to stand in the way of women moving into the cybersecurity industry after graduation.
While great things are being done with coding and robotics now in schools, and STEM programs seem to drive more women towards general technology jobs, there is little to no direct discussion about cybersecurity industries, and the pathways towards those careers remain unclear. Yet, the dynamic cybersecurity industry offers abundant opportunities for fresh graduates and even mid-career professionals.
In today’s world, interconnectivity exists between cameras, software, access control, alarms and audio, analytics, and so much more. This makes for a rich and fascinating industry – but there seems to be a lack of knowledge about this in the wider community.
Perhaps, people are unaware of the rich and diverse career paths, ranging from governments to so many industries all available to professional women via the cybersecurity vertical.
In the case of a regional channel manager or account manager, this may involve travel across states and territories, or even between countries.
The spectre of motherhood and family engagement also hangs large over many female professionals, and travel for work is undoubtedly one major factor holding many women back from the industry. For instance, instead of driving an hour-and-a-half to meet with a customer, then returning, the same meeting can be made from home or an office, effectively saving those three hours of travel time. As any parent will attest, it is hard being away from family, especially when you have younger children.
One silver lining is the current COVID-19 situation, which could be a gateway towards more flexible working conditions. With so many people working from home, there seems to be new-found acceptance of virtual events and meetings taking place within the industry.
The cybersecurity industry certainly does not lack the technology infrastructure to work remotely, and many companies have been agile enough to implement flexible working policies that have been working well.
When organisations encourage greater involvement at home for all employees, both women and men can share in the responsibilities, taking the stress off women who may feel particularly responsible for traditional female tasks. The flexibility for all to balance work and life would make the employee more productive. If the shift away from the nine-to-five grind at the office becomes commonplace, this will entice more women to join the cybersecurity industry.
This dynamic industry of ours thrives on agility and flexibility. It also offers excellent scope, diversity and pathways to professional success, and there is certainly room for a much higher proportion of women. Organisations must learn quickly to adapt and build new virtual workplace relationships and cultures while keeping employee productivity and interactions high.
The cybersecurity and technologies industry have all the tools it needs to lead the way in reshaping our new normal. We can start to level the gender playing field for a more inclusive, happier and more equal world.
This article was originally published on Security Brief Australia.