If you're like the two-thirds of millennial women surveyed by Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance, this is the first time anyone in career counseling has said, “You could have a great career in cybersecurity.’
According to the October 2015 study, women consistently have fewer opportunities to pursue cybersecurity careers and are less likely to feel qualified for a cybersecurity program. Although millennials responded that they wanted more information about cybersecurity careers and wanted to meet people working in the field, few had even met a cybersecurity professional.
If you are looking for an educational program to begin the journey to a job in cybersecurity, the Graduate Program in Information Assurance at Regis University offers a National Security Agency-awarded curriculum that prepares students for a range of industry certifications, available in-person or online.
Demand Outpacing Education
Current cybersecurity education opportunities for all millennials are likely not enough to keep up with the future demand for cybersecurity professionals. Cybersecurity is not often taught in high school, even when computing classes are offered. That is particularly poor timing since high schoolers are in the process of deciding what kinds of degree programs they want to attend on the path to their ideal careers.
Even if students decide to take the computer science route, their exposure to cybersecurity is probably low. An April study from CloudPassage found that even the highest-ranked computer science programs seldom included mandatory classes in security.
The Raytheon and NCSA study found that awareness of even basic cybersecurity practices is low among the millennials surveyed, 30 percent of whom said no one had discussed computer and internet safety with them.
What the Industry Loses Without Women
In March, a study from the Women's Society of Cyberjutsu1 found that only 11 percent of information security professionals in the world are women. According to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies, the ramifications of a homogenous workforce are real. Lack of diverse backgrounds limits the diversity of opinions and perspectives brought into a project. When women feel unwelcome in the field, the innovations they could offer are never brought into a field sorely in need of innovation.
Plus, cybersecurity needs as many interested candidates as possible to fill the cybersecurity talent shortfall, estimated at 1.5 million unfilled positions by 2019 according to Symantec CEO Michael Brown2.
The National Science Foundation writes that minorities are also underrepresented in information technology. What can be done to bring more millennials, particularly women and minorities, into the cybersecurity field?
Organizations Offer Solutions
Today, organizations are seeking to fill that gap through outreach, mentorship and training focused on underrepresented groups. Organizations encouraging women to pursue technology careers can give them a safe environment to experiment and learn without fearing gender-driven judgment. Employers looking to bring more women into their cybersecurity teams can start by partnering with local chapters of groups like the Women's Society of Cyberjutsu or Girl Develop It to promote cybersecurity opportunities and discuss how interested women can enter the career path.
Employers can also partner with or sponsor programs like the GenCyber Computer Science for Cyber Security Summer Program and the SANS CyberTalent Immersion Academy for Women, or speak to nearby universities about ways to promote cybersecurity career paths to their students.
Women who are interested in a career in cybersecurity can look to women-centric information security groups that offer mentors and can suggest training resources or security degree programs. The cybersecurity world is open for millennials of all kinds to explore.
If you decide that cybersecurity is a possible career path for you, consider the graduate degree or certificates from the Information Assurance Program at Regis University as a possibility for your postgraduate studies. Request more information or call 877-820-0581 to speak with an admission counselor.