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Increasing the profile of women in cyber

In an ever-changing digital landscape, the only certainty is that cybercrime will continue to grow. An increase in cybercrime means a need for more Cyber Talent – there will be a reported 3.5 million open cyber positions in 20211. For the past few decades, the IT industry and the cybersecurity industry more specifically, have been dominated by men - with very few female executives. According to one survey, 24 percent of global cybersecurity employees are women2, and 18 per cent3 of CIOs/CTOs are female. With so many projected open positions, we must encourage more women – who represent nearly half of the labour force – to pursue careers in cyber.

But why don’t more women enter the industry? Because you can’t be what you can’t see.

Many women shy away from cybersecurity because they do not see senior women in STEM-related fields, driving a presumption that career options may be limited for women. As a result, the pipeline of female talent is stifled early on. Women are underrepresented in STEM programmes in college, which ultimately limits the talent pool as graduates enter the workforce. By taking action, organisations can increase the pipeline of talent early on and ultimately increase the number of women in cyber. And the benefits are tangible. Companies with inclusive cultures do better than those without. They are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times more likely to be high performing, six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes. Creating diverse teams drives success for the organisation.

Here are a few simple, straightforward ideas for how organisations can take action:

  1. Introduce girls to STEM/cyber early in their education - Encouraging girls early in life to explore STEM will allow the pipeline of women interested in this field to expand. Deloitte is working with Girls Who Code and other organisations focussed on inspiring more students  to pursue STEM.
  2. Role models - Create and promote networking, mentorship and sponsoring opportunities. For example, Deloitte’s recent Women in Cyber campaign spotlights women across our global cyber practice and is meant to debunk the myths around the roles available to women.
  3. Hiring practices that consider women - From creating inclusive job descriptions and expanding where you recruit to incorporating a diverse interview panel. These practices will help to expand the diversity of the applicant pool, as well as allow candidates to see the diversity of your organisation.
  4. Flexibility – A recent survey on workplace flexibility found that despite potential consequences to professional growth, today’s workforce values flexible work options.  Incorporating a variety of flexible arrangements that allow employees to find the balance that works for them will enable people to better integrate their work life and personal life. In implementing flexible work arrangements, it is also important to encourage an environment that accepts these arrangements and supports employees who decide to take advantage of them.

Ultimately, encouraging more capable women to pursue careers in cyber has the potential to reduce the sector's labour shortage and introduce diverse perspectives, leadership and experience. Beyond benefitting companies and society… it’s just the right thing to do.


1Cybercrime Magazine, “Cybersecurity Talent Crunch To Create 3.5 Million Unfilled Jobs Globally By 2021,” October 24, 2019.

2(ISC)2, Women in Cybersecurity Report, 2019, p. 1.

3Wall Street Journal, “More Women Are Making It to the CIO Level,” April 23, 2019.


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