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10/26/2015
03:30 PM
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Millennials Not Pursuing Cybersecurity Careers

Lack of awareness about what cybersecurity jobs entail is widespread worldwide among 18- to 26-year-olds -- especially women -- a new study finds.

Young adults ages 18- to 26 worldwide just aren't flocking to the cybersecurity field, despite the industry's hot job market and talent gap. There's a lack of awareness of cybersecurity career opportunities, and young women are less interested and informed about the field than men, according to a new survey of young adults by Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

The study indicates that worldwide, women may not be getting the guidance that men get at the secondary and high school levels: 52% of millennial women say cybersecurity programs and activities aren't available to them, while 39% of millennial men said the same. Nearly 50% of the men in the survey were aware of what cybersecurity jobs entail, while just 33% of women in the survey were.

When it comes to interest in the field, 28% more young adults this year said they would likely consider a career that improves Internet security than said so last year, and in the US, fewer women are looking at a career in security, as the gap between young women's interest in the field versus men's interest in the field is five times wider than a year ago.

But 25% of the women who said they were less likely to pursue a career in Internet security now than they were a year ago say they that's because they're not interested in that type of work; 17% of males cited lack of interest. Some 75% of women say their high school and secondary school computer classes did not offer skills for the security field, while 62% of men said the same.

There's apparently a mentor gap as well: 77% of young women in the U.S. say no high school or secondary school or guidance and career counselor talked about cybersecurity as a career, while 67% of men said the same.

On the positive side, some 38% of millenials have competed in cybersecurity contests or looked for internships, scholarships and mentoring programs in cybersecurity. "Young adults say they want careers that use skills required for cyber careers," the report says.

The Raytheon/NCSA report -- which is based on a survey of 4,000 millennials in Australia, Estonia, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, U.K., United Emirates, and the US -- comes on the heels of an (ISC)2 and Booz Allen report that found the number of women in the cybersecurity field has remained static at 10% worldwide. The overall number of women joining the industry is on the rise: it's just that their numbers aren't keeping pace with the overall workforce in the field, according to (ISC)2. Where women have an edge in security is in the governance, risk and compliance (GRC) sector, where one in five women holds a position versus one in eight men, according to the (ISC)2/Booz Allen report.

Findings from both the Raytheon/NCSA and (ISC)2/Booz Allen reports appear to reflect the underlying problem of a scarcity of entry-level cybersecurity positions. That limits young graduates from finding and filling cybersecurity positions. "The requirement for experience for most [jobs] is higher than one would normally require for any entry-level position," Julie Franz, (ISC)2 Foundation director, told Dark Reading last month. "The need is so acute in cyber that it the requirement for someone to hit the ground running is much higher."

The report highlights the challenge of encouraging women and young people to pursue careers in a hot industry where there aren't enough qualified people to fill the job vacancies. "Not only are we missing obvious opportunity to remediate a global shortfall of cybersecurity workers, but we're also seeing the problem compounded by leaving women behind when it comes to cybersecurity education, programs and careers," said Valecia Maclin, program director of cybersecurity and special missions at Raytheon.

It's a matter of better schooling and mentoring this age bracket. Nearly 40% say they want more information about cybersecurity careers. "The survey has shown that millenials would likely pursue a cybersecurity career if they are aware of what the job entails," the study, "Securing Our Future: Closing the Cyber Talent Gap," said.

 

Black Hat Europe returns to the beautiful city of Amsterdam, Netherlands November 12 & 13, 2015. Click here for more information and to register.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
10/30/2015 | 11:28:20 AM
Re: yup
I think we are probably at the point where coding needs to be a part of regular high-school (and/or middle-school) curricula -- allowing for greater specialization at the college level.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
10/29/2015 | 11:19:34 PM
Re: yup
Coding may not be mandatory, but I think we are already arriving at an economy where coding is a huge plus in many fields -- thanks in large part to the proliferation of data science.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
10/29/2015 | 11:18:02 PM
Re: Focus on the Solution
Unfortunately, many parents are still hardcore reinforcing strict gender roles with the way children are raised that the issues go deeper than simple education.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
10/29/2015 | 11:16:06 PM
Re: yup
@Ryan: Certainly, this is why we are now at the point where security must be a consideration right from the beginning -- especially as new technology offers new vulnerabilities.
jw13d
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jw13d,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/29/2015 | 3:08:52 PM
Re: yup
You are quite mistaken. Good security skills require a foundation in system and network administration. If you aren't good at building systems and networks, you won't be good at protecting them (security). The hactivists that are getting the heavy handed treatment that you speak of don't generally have those fundamentals and are just breaking things. It is fundamentally easier to break things than to create them, but that doesn't give you the skills to be a good cybersecurity person.

Personally, I view the cybersecurity team as the masters program with system and network administration/engineering being the associates/bachelor level programs. I don't encourage anyone to jump straight to security but to enter administration and engineering with security in mind and cross over to security once you have the fundamentals down.
techmichelle
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techmichelle,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/28/2015 | 10:23:51 AM
Re: yup
Alright :-) This article is pointing out the statistics. It opens the question of why?

Sure its easy to off load the answer as a Dating.  Many girls even with opportunity, support, and being around people in the field do NOT choose to tackle Engineering, Computers, you name it, for a degrees when coming out of high school.  Lots of reason, part of it is social media. 

At one time when the state upped the smoking age and taxes, they used part of the tax money as grants for anti-smoking campaigns. One of the most successful was done by a middle school media club.  The whole school was involved. Posters, articles to TV spots.

Social Media can be turned around, figuring the best way to spend the money? One idea is to offer contests and grants to social media clubs at colleges.

Whistleblower, hacking, court you name it. These issues are harder to tackle yet very important.

How to dress for success, this is such an oh my josh area, this is how I would describe it.

As a child your parents teach you to watch out for cars, then you find out that pedestrians have the right of way, then you realize you might have the right of way but a car is going to kill you.

Free online coding groups have expanded the opportunities. The next step for them is to incorporate certificates and degree programs that lead into paid interships and entry level jobs.  

*** Another issue is lack of opportunities for women already in the workforce.  As groups continue to expand opportunities I hope this part of the issue gets more focus.

 

Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
10/28/2015 | 9:30:30 AM
Re: Focus on the Solution
As long as we can educate our female students and attract their attention to IT, they will find their way up. It starts form bottom.
Dr.T
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50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
10/28/2015 | 9:15:59 AM
Re: yup
I doubt that it is about dating. We have not being doing a good job when it comes eduction our kids in a balanced way, we do not give enough attention to our female kids and get their attention to IT world.
Dr.T
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50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
10/28/2015 | 9:09:52 AM
Re: yup
I see. Security was not that visible and impactful let's say 10 years ago. Recent years all these security bridges created awareness.
Dr.T
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50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
10/28/2015 | 9:08:15 AM
Re: yup
Kids seem very excited in coding, especially gaming and mobile development.
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