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IWD 2024: Why including more women in the cybersecurity sector is a win-win
Fri, 8th Mar 2024

We’re currently outnumbered three to one but it shouldn’t stay that way. I’m talking here about the industry in which I’m privileged to work: cyber security. 

After twelve years at AT&T leading the Software and Delivery organisation and the cloud transformation, I joined the Check Point executive team in the role of chief product officer just a year ago, in February 2023.

Cyber security has assumed centre stage in recent years, courtesy of a seemingly endless series of cyber-security breaches, at household-name organisations like Optus, Medibank and Latitude Financial Services.

A KPMG survey published in early January revealed cybersecurity is now the number one issue keeping business leaders up at night, up from third place 12 months earlier. 

It is now the 'golden thread at the heart of every business', KPMG chief executive Australia Andrew Yates noted.

Investing in protection

Little surprise then that we’ve seen organisations increasing their focus and their spend on programs and processes designed to strengthen their resistance when hackers come calling. 

These days cybersecurity is viewed as an essential investment in brand protection and business continuity.

That has resulted in opportunities aplenty, for vendors like Check Point Software Technologies that offer rigorous end-to-end AI-powered, cloud-delivered solutions to help organisations and enterprises protect their systems and data against attacks and damaging data breaches.

A long-term skills shortfall 

There are equally valuable opportunities for individuals with the skills and expertise to implement and manage these solutions and help customers develop comprehensive cyber-protection strategies and programs to defend their operations.

The average cybersecurity salary in Australia is just over $127,000 a year, according to Entry level positions pay $106,839 on average while those with several years of experience can expect to pull in around $173,000 per annum.

Meanwhile, demand for their services continues to outstrip supply, as it has done for years.

Australia’s Cyber Security Sector Competitiveness Plan 2019 noted the country had a ‘severe shortage’ of job ready security workers, with 17,000 more needed by 2026.

The sector will need to draw heavily on workers with transferrable skills from other industries to combat the shortfall, the Report observed.

Fast forward five years and little has changed. Job opportunities in the sector remains abundant, with experienced personnel and enthusiastic new starters able to pick and choose between a range of roles.

Brilliant career opportunities

As a leader in the sector, I’m passionate about ensuring more of these roles are filled by worthy female candidates. 

Why should including more women in the cyber workforce be such a pressing imperative, you may ask? Reader, let me count the ways…

First and foremost, because diversity fosters innovation. In a field as ultra-dynamic as cybersecurity, the more creativity and innovation we have, the better. Fresh perspectives and problem-solving approaches are essential, if we are to stay a step or several ahead of cyber adversaries, whose adaptability and ingenuity is almost boundless.

Secondly, because the industry can only close the talent shortage by actively attracting and training more women to these jobs.

And thirdly, because too few girls and young women are opting to pursue careers in STEM related fields. There is an oft-quoted saying that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ and in my experience, it holds true. Seeing women succeeding in cyber security and holding senior positions in the sector sets a powerful example; showing the next generation what’s possible and inspiring them to set their sights high.

Taking positive action

Having female leadership at the top is also key to ensuring we demonstrate focus on reducing the gender parity issue. Nearly half (44%) of our top leadership positions are held by inspiring women leaders,  who are responsible for overseeing 78% of our employees. 

At Check Point, we're committed to closing the gender gap in cybersecurity. Through our Secure Academy Program, we partner with educational institutions to embed cyber security in academic curricula. Our graduate and professional development programs, for new starters,  including Check Point MIND, offers a bridge into the cyber security industry via mentorship, hands-on experience, and career development opportunities, aiming to attract and retain talented women in the field. 

Check Point also drives further support for women at Check Point to grow their careers and take on leadership roles through our Woman Mentoring Program in PO and FIRE (Females in Roles Everywhere). 

We also take proactive steps to foster diversity and inclusivity by collaborating with partners in the community and advocating for inspiring young female leaders. Our inclusive recruitment and development strategies, coupled with mentorship programs and support for work-life balance including support for having a family life through remote working, aim to create a conducive environment for growth.

With my fellow senior female leaders at Check Point, we understand that it is our responsibility to ‘give back’ so to speak, by ensuring we serve as role models for younger women who have an interest to get into select male-dominated industries like cybersecurity.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, we're proud of our progress and excited to continue driving change, encouraging other organisations to join us in this important endeavour.