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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.

 

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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
10/26/2015 | 11:13:51 PM
yup
Not that surprising, really.  Security has always been far less of a draw than other cyber roles -- and it's why good security is often lacking in many tools and environments.  Programmers usually want to work with features -- not security.
RyanSepe
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50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
10/27/2015 | 8:49:31 AM
Re: yup
Can't really blame programmers for being programmed that way. All kidding aside, the features are the core concept of technology its when we fail to ingrain security with them in the SDLC that we run into issues. But make no mistake, without the features there wouldn't be any security to apply.
Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
10/27/2015 | 9:39:28 AM
Re: yup
I speak to as many college students as I can about the opportunities in cybersecurity. But they all seem to be focused on coding, coding, coding, and few have any knowledge or insight into the security piece of that puzzle, nor the security industry itself. 
geriatric
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0%
geriatric,
User Rank: Moderator
10/27/2015 | 10:09:43 AM
Focus on the Solution
Invariably in these discussions, the gender gap is seen as some sort of problem that needs fixed. But why must we refuse the response of many women who say "I'm just not interested" without the reply being "But we have to find some way to MAKE you interested!". There's nothing inherently deficient about preferring one choice over another. Instead, focus on the characteristics that make for an effective cybersecurity professional, and target those individuals, regardless of irrelevant categories like race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or political party.
JimmyW414
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100%
JimmyW414,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/27/2015 | 2:53:15 PM
Re: yup
A big part of work for women is looking for a date. The IT field has the stereotype of being full of male geeks.
Marilyn Cohodas
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0%
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
10/27/2015 | 3:12:24 PM
Re: yup
I'm not a millennial but I certainly  speak for the vast majority of my female peers whose reason for working in IT has nothing to do with dating!  Think challenging work, good pay, opportunity in a growing field. Ladies, speak up!
Marilyn Cohodas
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0%
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
10/27/2015 | 3:12:35 PM
Re: yup
I'm not a millennial but I certainly  speak for the vast majority of my female peers whose reason for working in IT has nothing to do with dating!  Think challenging work, good pay, opportunity in a growing field. Ladies, speak up!
David Mudkips
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0%
David Mudkips,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/27/2015 | 3:23:34 PM
Re: yup
Not surprising with the heavy handed way young hackers are treated these days, putting them in prison or giving them a criminal record isn't going to encourage a new generation. You don't get any good at cybersecurity without breaking a few laws first.
fl0w3r
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50%
fl0w3r,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/27/2015 | 5:09:41 PM
Re: yup
You can learn hacking/pen testing without breaking the laws. That is what Google and capture the flags are made for. Also, set up VM's and have one as the victim and the other as an attacker. Then get books about hacking and practice the techniques with your VM's.
fl0w3r
50%
50%
fl0w3r,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/27/2015 | 5:18:35 PM
Re: yup
I didn't know much about security while I was in my university. Most courses weren't focused on it. It wasn't until I saw people using a web debugging proxy to steal digital goods that I was interested. I wasn't about to make a game and have all my work for nothing if people could just not pay for it. So I learned what people do to attack programs. Show them the significance of buffer overflow vulnerabilites, format string vulnerabilities, sql injection, etc, by showing how easy it is to do, and they might listen. I suggest picoctf dot com 2013:Toaster Wars and picoctf dot com 2014. It's a high school ctf, but it teaches what attackers do.
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