Cyber Security and International Womens Day
8 March 2023
Cyber security is one of the fastest-growing areas of the technology sector, and it's no surprise that more and more companies are electing to store and protect their data online.
And yet, despite being one of the fastest developing industries within tech, just 24% of cyber security employees worldwide are women (Cybersecurity Ventures, 2022).
This number has risen significantly compared to the reported figure of around 11% in 2017; however, it is still a considerably disproportionate rate in comparison to male counterparts.
It appears women are joining and staying in the cyber field at higher rates than before, with the number in the sector growing. The gap of representation is beginning to decrease but what can be done to close it further?
For the technology industry to thrive, we need a diverse workforce. We live in a diverse world, and the technologies we build will serve people from different cultures and backgrounds—so it's logical that those building them should reflect this diversity.
If our IT workforce doesn't represent these diversities, we're unlikely to produce products and services that are innovative or fulfil their potential.
Women have been historically underrepresented in STEM and IT fields for a variety of reasons, some of them weren't encouraged or supported by others who went into these careers before them; with little representation, it’s difficult for many to envision themselves in an environment where they seemingly don’t hold a presence.
While the gender gap in technology is not as wide as it once was, there's still a lack of female role models in many high-tech professions, especially in cybersecurity where most organisations have failed to increase their percentage of women in upper management positions in the last few decades.
Many women may not have been invested in a career in cyber due to a lack of encouragement stemming from society’s views of gender roles and expectations.
While some women may not have an interest in cyber at all.
What’s important to focus on now and to move on and grow the numbers of women in cyber is to prove that they can have a career in cyber, should they want to.
Not only do women get affected by a lack of representation throughout the stem industry and the world of cyber and fraud, but also within the mainstream media.
An example of this is within the film and television industry and its content; the way in which this can be assessed is through the Bechdel test.
Simply put, the Bechdel test is a measure taken to evaluate the representation and involvement of women in fictional films.
The test, which has three focal elements to it, includes:
- It must feature at least two women.
- The women featured must talk to each other.
- They must talk about something else besides a man.
In some other modified and modern versions of the test, the requirements also feature this additional element:
The women involved must also be named.
You might think these requirements are simple and easy to follow! However, according to data from the Bechdel Test website, this is not true for many films. In fact, a percentage of the films within the sample, fail completely!
The Bechdel test site, which has collected a sample of 9329 different films, has shown that only around 56.8% of films pass all three original focal elements to the Bechdel test. A further 10.2% of films pass just two tests, whilst 21.9% simply pass one test.
11.3% of films fail the test completely, adding to 1056 films.
Although the Bechdel test doesn’t determine the accurate or fair depiction of women and doesn’t also determine the actual quality of the film, it does give an indication of how women are treated in the media compared to men. The Bechdel test has helped popularise the conversation, which has needed a much-needed platform for a long time.
When looking back at inclusivity and representation within the cybersecurity industry, this is something that SASIG is passionate about.
The intention of SASIG is to create a community, and therefore foster an environment of supportiveness, informality, and inclusivity.
SASIG released a statement covering some of its most important social purposes to reflect and improve the trust within an online environment; one of those key facets was the diversity and inclusion within the membership and within the events, both in person and online.
“Promoting diversity and embracing inclusion. SASIG membership is open to all, regardless of background, race, disability, sexuality, gender identity, or expression” (SASIG).
Inclusion is more than just numbers; it's about ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed regardless of race, religion, or gender identity.
As well as inclusivity being at the forefront of SASIG’s business message they have also featured many events to promote this idea of inclusion, in a wide variety of platforms and formulas. Including through in-person sessions featured on our agendas, as well as through various webinars that have been conducted.
SASIG has started displaying regular sessions described as a Chief’s Brief, which gives an opportunity to individuals to discuss their career and accomplishments.
SASIG has made a conscious effort to ensure a wide variety of representation throughout these sessions, including highly successful women to demonstrate them as examples of aspiration as well as inspiration.
SASIG’s Skills Fest sessions are also there to encourage and mentor those who see a future for themselves, and look specifically in these session on closing the skills gap further.
Continuing with this methodology and goal to include a wider variety of people, ensures that they have more exposure to other potential women interested in IT. Doing this helps those individuals who are unsure what a role in IT could hold without seeing much representation prior.
SASIG will continue to use its platform to encourage all and continue to encourage diversity and inclusivity whether it’s online or at an in-person event.
Since joining SASIG, I’ve felt a real sense of inclusion from the entire team and it’s been incredibly encouraging to work for a company that prides itself on diverse goals and diverse people. It’s one of the many aspects that, as a woman, made me feel particularly proud to be a part of.
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