Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Careers & People

03:40 PM
Connect Directly

WEF: 217 More Years Until Women and Men Reach Economic Equality

Progress toward economic parity is in reverse for the first time since 2006, but cybersecurity can help change the game.

It could be 217 years before women achieve global economic parity with men, reports the World Economic Forum (WEF), whose data indicates a bleak future for financial equality.

This is the first time the "Global Gender Gap Report" showed gender parity is shifting into reverse since WEF began compiling its index in 2006. Researchers annually evaluate 144 countries on their progress toward equality across four categories: educational attainment, health and survival, economic participation and opportunity, and political empowerment.

Progress has been strong for the first two sectors, where countries on average have closed 95% and 96% of the gap, respectively. However, it has been comparatively weak for the latter two, where the average gap closure is 58% and 23%, respectively. WEF researchers estimate it will take 168 years to close the gender gap in North America.

The equality numbers aren't much better in the subsector of cybersecurity. In a recent survey, researchers from the Cyentia Institute and Cybrary polled 2,973 women in IT and security. They found 63% are not paid equally to men, and 55% say their employers don't actively recruit women.

Why Women Fall Behind
Part of the problem is a lack of experience among female candidates and organizations' unwillingness to educate them, says Cybrary COO Kathie Miley. The majority of women Cybrary surveyed have less than three years of experience in security, and 53% say their employers don't offer cybersecurity or certification training.

"We have a huge disparity in hiring [and] allowing women to enter the cyber workforce [so they can] gain the requisite experience their male counterparts have," she says. "It's a catch-22: We're not hiring women enough to allow them to develop, and [businesses] can't pay them the equivalent to a man who has more experience."

While cybersecurity curricula has only begun to emerge at universities within the past decade, Miley believes the disparity starts earlier. "We haven't done a good job at all as a country, as a global citizenship, of nurturing women into technology and mathematics," she says. Men often start building their tech experience earlier than women and continue accelerating ahead.

Businesses hiring security pros generally don't have diversity top-of-mind either, Miley continues. They're primarily interested in experience. It's understandable, of course, to want to hire security pros with backgrounds to do the job – but an unwillingness to train employees in a field as rapidly changing as cyber puts both candidates and businesses at a disadvantage, especially at a time when most organizations struggle to recruit and retain skilled employees.

"Most people with five to 10 years of experience are already in positions and not looking to change," she explains. "We have to move forward and look for people who don't fit that traditional profile and bring them in and pay them properly."

It's Time for Women To Take the Wheel
If we want to accelerate on the track toward equality, women need to take the driver's seat.

"Women tend to take a softer voice in executive boardrooms and management meetings, where males dominate the conversation and women don't speak up and make themselves head," Miley says. "[They] need to have good conversation without feeling intimidated."

WEF teamed with LinkedIn to explore hiring trends around women in IT. They found industries with strong gender parity, such as corporate services, take a larger-than-average proportion of hires from the female talent pool. Women make up 23% of all LinkedIn users with computer science degrees but 32% of computer science degree holders in corporate services.

Sectors with poor gender parity, such as manufacturing, hire a lower-than-average proportion of female employees. Experts suggest a dual approach to close the economic gender gap. At an educational level, they say, we need to rebalance degree specialization choices. At a workplace level, we need to avoid exacerbating the imbalance that already exists.

Miley echoes their sentiments. It's time to stop pretending women aren't interested in cyber, she explains, and provide the tools all employees need to build their skills and stay ahead.

Women are pursuing cybersecurity education, she adds, citing data from e-learning platform Cybrary. The top five courses women take are CompTIA A+, Ethical Hacking, CompTIA Security+, Cisco CCNA, and CISSP. She points out that women generally pursue less technical topics, which are more accessible for those with career backgrounds outside the tech field.

Related Content:




Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
7/10/2018 | 8:30:30 AM
A woman in Cybersecurity
As a woman in cybersecurity I can see where this post is coming from; however, I have to disagree with some of the points in it. It's not so much that companies aren't hiring women in cybersecurity or that women aren't applying for the jobs or that men are more in the sector; it's a combination of all those things but at the same time, there's a glaring factor that this article misses all together which is that companies just don't pay period. It has absolutely nothing to do with gender.

Companies are just not paying what the market is at and that is stopping people from going into the sector. Additionally companies are going towards contracting positions for Cybersecurity rather than investing in the person which for "the average woman" is not going to be appealing.

The company I work for is an anomaly in that they pay for cybersecurity training. They send us to SANS training. They pay for certifications. They want us to better ourselves. If we get a certification, they give us a bonus. If we get an upper level certification, they increase our pay. There's incentives to bettering ourselves.

"It's a catch-22: We're not hiring women enough to allow them to develop, and [businesses] can't pay them the equivalent to a man who has more experience." - This entire line misses the point of the wage gap. Equal pay has nothing to do with more experience. If someone has more experience they should be paid more. The equal pay argument has been that if two people, one a male, the other a female with the same exact qualifications and experience, they should be paid the same, regardless of gender. That's the point of the wage gap argument and why women have been fighting to get equal pay for equal work since the 20s.

User Rank: Ninja
7/6/2018 | 11:26:36 PM
Underground Female Hackers May Rise
I have daughters.  My eldest is quickly demonstrating coding aptitude.  In trying to pull up some profiles of woman coders and hackers that I could share with her for inspiration I was embarrassed at the numerous "10 Sexiest Female Hackers" and similar sites that came up.  Good thing I wasn't searching with her next to me.  I wound up just going to the sites of women I admire directly, like Limor Fried of Adafruit.  But I also know women from the underground who are more talented than any male counterpart I've had in my career but choose to remain underground for a reason.  Now, where in the commercial public sector it may appear economic equality is going backward, I caution to not despair that knowledge and skills equality is a contributing cause of that.  In fact, I'd argue women outside the mainstream are gaining skills quickly and a not-so-obvious group of women will be the future of the InfoSec industry in particular.  There is a stark difference in the attitude and drive of the underground and fringe communities in tech from the starch-shirt-wearing Microsoft, IBM or similar tech organizations.  What is missing from these reports - and I stress I am in no way minimizing the sad data they contain - is representation of the women in the FOSS communities, the underground hacker communes, Middle-East and South American activist organizations, or the gamer culture.  Men may have the lion's share of the wealth now, but so many of those men are half as talented as their driven female counterparts and one can only fake it for so long.  At some point there may come a time when women from the fringe and underground decide to come out into the daylight and in short time, they will dominate the industry by sake of their skillset alone, and once that happens, these numbers will have to change.  And I expect that change far sooner than 217 more years.  My daughters are counting on it.

7 Tips for Infosec Pros Considering A Lateral Career Move
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/21/2020
For Mismanaged SOCs, The Price Is Not Right
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
A double-free vulnerability in vrend_renderer.c in virglrenderer through 0.8.1 allows attackers to cause a denial of service by triggering texture allocation failure, because vrend_renderer_resource_allocated_texture is not an appropriate place for a free.
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
In the Lustre file system before 2.12.3, the ptlrpc module has a buffer overflow and panic, and possibly remote code execution, due to the lack of validation for specific fields of packets sent by a client. Interaction between req_capsule_get_size and tgt_brw_write leads to a tgt_shortio2pages integ...
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
In the Lustre file system before 2.12.3, the ptlrpc module has an out-of-bounds read and panic due to the lack of validation for specific fields of packets sent by a client. The ldl_request_cancel function mishandles a large lock_count parameter.
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
In the Lustre file system before 2.12.3, the ptlrpc module has an out-of-bounds read and panic (via a modified lm_bufcount field) due to the lack of validation for specific fields of packets sent by a client. This is caused by interaction between sptlrpc_svc_unwrap_request and lustre_msg_hdr_size_v2...
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
In the Lustre file system before 2.12.3, the mdt module has an LBUG panic (via a large MDT Body eadatasize field) due to the lack of validation for specific fields of packets sent by a client.