Stephanie Ewing-Ottmers, CISSP, CISM, PMP, (left) a cybersecurity expert with Delta Risk, was a guest on The Source Texas Public Radio show with Carole Meador, CEO of DeCypher, to discuss the gender gap in cybersecurity.
In the past year, hundreds of thousands of cybersecurity jobs went unfilled in both the public and private sector. With the market predicted to reach $170 billion by 2020, hiring enough people to protect data, networks, critical systems, and national security will become even more challenging. While technology has historically been a boy’s club (with an estimated 74 percent of all US tech jobs filled by men) the disparity is even more drastic in cybersecurity. According to a survey conducted last year by ISC2, the largest organization that certifies cyber professionals, only 10 percent of cybersecurity jobs are filled by women.
Delta Risk cybersecurity expert Stephanie Ewing-Ottmers, CISSP, CISM, PMP, was recently a guest on “The Source” Texas Public Radio show to discuss this issue. She was joined by Josephine Wolff, assistant professor of Public Policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, New America Foundation’s cybersecurity initiative, and Caroline Meador, CEO of Decypher, a management and consulting technology company.
Ewing-Ottmers suggested several ways to encourage more women to join the IT and IT security workforce, including supporting local youth programs to get girls interested in cybersecurity at a young age, and increasing the number of mentorship and internship programs for them.
“We need to change the way we describe the skillsets required and increase awareness of the vast opportunities available to women,” Ewing-Ottmers said. “Cybersecurity requires a wide variety of skills beyond coding. There are plenty of positions that do not require you to be a computer or network expert, and we need to recognize that women who come into this field from other backgrounds can bring much-needed business skills to these positions.”
In an effort to promote gender balance in cybersecurity, since 2011, Delta Risk has started and supported teams to engage both boys and girls as part of the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program at schools across San Antonio, including East Central High School, LA Vernia High School, and La Vernia Middle School. One of the teams backed by Delta Risk won the Mayor’s Cup last weekend and will be participating in national competition, and the all-girls team at La Vernia Middle School won Best All Female Middle School team in San Antonio in the most recent CyberPatriot competitions.
These programs are laying the foundation to welcome more women to the cybersecurity workforce to help bridge the gap between open jobs and skilled professionals.