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Security Industry Takes Steps To Close Gender Gap

A recent surge of programs and initiatives to nurture women and girl's interests and careers in cybersecurity and technology bodes well for an industry that desperately needs to close a persistent gender gap.

to “attract more women into the technology professions, provide support tools to help advance and sustain women’s careers, and deliver educational opportunities to develop skills and increase knowledge to further enhance women’s leadership within the global technology workforce.”

The program, which was established by ISACA’s Women in Leadership Council plans to offer women in technology tracks at two to three of the ISACA conferences next year as well as at least two webinars on advancing the careers of women in technology. The program also plans to bring networking opportunities for women to the ISACA conferences and has already created a webinar on how to network as a woman.  

“We firmly believe that unless you have women in leadership, you’re not going to have the rounded conversations about IT security that you get if you have a male-dominated environment, and that women need to be there and represented in the same proportions as men,” says Jane Whitgift, CISM, M.Inst.ISP, a member of the ISACA’s Women’s Leadership Council and virtual chief information security officer (CISO) with Whitgift Security.

Investing in the Future

In addition to programs that will nurture women who are already in security and technology careers, the STEM community is also stepping up to financially invest in women who are currently studying computing majors and will soon be entering the workforce.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently gave a $300,000 grant to Mississippi State University (MSU) to encourage young women to enter science-based fields.

According to the National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Indicators 2016 report, the proportion of women completing the computer science degrees they set out to earn has declined from 28% to 18%. This is despite the fact that the proportion of freshmen women declaring a computer science major when first enrolled in a 4-year institution has remained stable (at about 20% in recent years). The report also sites a study that concluded that same-sex peer support was the most significant factor affecting retention rates.

The project funded by this grant, Mississippi Alliance for Women in Computing project, aims to tackle the problem of retention rates of women in undergraduate computing majors as well as help postsecondary women make the transition to the computing workforce. The project also focuses on diversity in technology and will put programs in place to attract women of color to computing.

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