IT Brief Australia - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
Story image
IWD 2024: Cybersecurity is stronger with diversity
Fri, 8th Mar 2024

As the threat landscape grows more complex, there has never been a more urgent need for the cybersecurity industry to plug the skills shortage. It is estimated that there will be 186,000 tech workers needed by 2030 in Australia. With economic pressure leading dwindling security teams coupled with more actors taking advantage of new tactics, techniques and procedures, the world needs as many talented professionals as possible to defend and protect our digital environments.

Empowering women and inspiring inclusion in the cyber sector can alleviate the ongoing critical skills shortage. It is important to start a dialogue and highlight initiatives to encourage more women to enter the exciting and fast-paced realm of technology.

According to the latest research data published by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), the gender pay gap in the IT industry is more than 22%. We are seeing the growing importance of providing women opportunities in positions of leadership.

Ensuring women have equal opportunities to lead in management positions ensures that diverse voices are included in strategic decision-making. Recruiting diverse talent to create more balanced teams will lead to better business outcomes for companies and will strengthen the cyber sector as a whole. 

It is imperative that we seek to break down long-standing barriers to entry. As a woman in the cyber space, I know first-hand the difficult time woman have breaking into the industry. I found my passion for security through a chance internship that didn’t pique my interest before I fell into a security-focused team. Although security quickly became a strong passion, it took several different jobs to determine what I wanted out of a security role, whether it was compliance, incident management or security operations centre management. 

Like many other talented women even today, my professors and counsellors encouraged me to foster my knack for mathematics as a schoolteacher, rather than a cybersecurity practitioner or any computer science-oriented role. 

While cybersecurity has become a more established industry today, we as professionals can do a better job of encouraging curious and motivated people from diverse backgrounds to join the industry. Cybersecurity has a vast number of different specialisations and roles one can work in. 

We can start by engaging girls in STEM early and creating awareness of the different types of roles and opportunities in the sector, not just for technical roles. Seeking out mentors and mentorship opportunities is a great way that organisations and individuals can ensure that women are supported in their professional development and heard outside of their everyday work roles. 

Diverse talent pipelines and development initiatives will help security organisations create strong cultural foundations of equity and inclusion that otherwise might stop at meeting hiring quotas.

It is also important that we celebrate the critical role that women and underrepresented groups already have across the industry and the trailblazers that have paved the way for future leaders in the field.