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Cybersecurity and women: A call for diversity

There has long been a discussion on why we require more women in cybersecurity. Is it only to close the gender gap or to build tokenism diversity in the organization? The answer is more complex than that. Studies have shown that diverse teams bring in fresher business perspectives, and lead to higher performing teams. While this is true of any team in an organization, it is especially true in the cybersecurity space, since the more disparate the group, the better its ability to understand and detect the mindset of cyber threat actors, and anticipate and mitigate complex cyberattacks that are increasing, especially while working remotely.

There’s something about most of us women that makes us go the extra mile. We go for certifications; we engage with the latest technology; and we keep finding solutions to problems that haven’t been solved. Many women have demonstrated an aptitude for multitasking, which Is what makes me believe that cybersecurity, with all its various facets, makes for a great career choice for women. Which is why when a field with ample opportunities, like cybersecurity, presents itself, they shouldn't hesitate to take up the challenge.  A few reasons why women could consider a career in cybersecurity are:

Vast network of opportunities

Some people are under the inaccurate assumption that a career in cybersecurity equals a career in ethical hacking, when in reality the field has grown to include identity management, data privacy, IoT security, digital security, and other related fields.

A CNBC report from 2020 puts the number of open cybersecurity-related positions to half-a-million, further exacerbated by COVID-19. If you’ve been contemplating a career in cybersecurity, this is the time to take the plunge!

Multiple options to upskill and reskill

Women returning to work after a hiatus have several courses and certifications to help ease them back into the workforce. Industry thinktank, NASSCOM, offers several future skill initiatives, while Cyber Shiksha's (by the Data Security Council of India) exclusive learning program is open to fresh women graduates across twelve Indian cities. In addition to these, industry-standard certifications such as CISSP and CISA can help women get back into the field of cybersecurity with a relevant and updated skillset.

Rise of the gig economy

The tech gig economy is performing strongly, especially in the "new normal". Enterprises have discovered the benefits of remote working as it has opened access to a niche talent pool. These are professionals, keen on solving specific problems for enterprises, without working full time. Concurrently, there has been a steep increase in the number of external consultants willing to work in cybersecurity—a trend that is expected to keep rising even after the pandemic's effects have subsided. Cybersecurity fits snugly in this gig economy model, as there are limited professionals in the field and, as a cybersecurity professional, you can have both the flexibility and opportunity to delve into exciting projects.

Ability to charge a premium for your services

Cybersecurity has now become an imperative conversation within organizations, pervading up to the board level. As the field has a dearth of quality talent, you have the opportunity to charge a premium for your services, especially if you bring key certifications and trainings from top institutions. However, just like any line of work, you must continuously upskill yourself to not become redundant. This is especially true in cybersecurity, as new threats appear every day and only a curious individual can come up with counters for these.

Because you must

It is a lonely place in the higher echelons of the cybersecurity space, and we need more women to join it. Our problem-solving skills come in handy, especially in cybersecurity. Combined with an appetite for growth, this is the space for women. There are few women cybersecurity professionals, a statistic that needs to change. Other than cybersecurity being an interesting technology to work with, it is also still in its nascent stage, at least in India. Joining the movement now will give you the first-mover's advantage in the future. Additionally, if India aspires to be a cybersecurity powerhouse, it will need female technology professionals to drive this transformation.

It is a global stage set for you; all you need is a leap of faith and a knack to keep things secure. A natural trait for women.