Last updated on August 25th, 2022 by BARR Advisory
Today, August 26, marks the 102nd anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting all American women the right to vote, along with legal recognition as equal citizens—also known as Women’s Equality Day. Still today, women remain significantly underrepresented in a number of industries, particularly in leadership positions. One of those industries is cybersecurity. Yes, the very industry BARR Advisory lives and breathes in is part of this worldwide problem.
Women make up 46% of the U.S. workforce, yet according to the recent “Cybersecurity Workforce Report” from the world’s leading cybersecurity professional organization ISC², the following statistics ring true:
- Only 24% of cybersecurity professionals are women, up from 20% in 2019
- Men outnumber women in cybersecurity three to one
- Only 25% of GAFAM’s (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft) employees are female
The good news is things are changing. And they seem to be changing quickly. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts women will represent 30% of the global cybersecurity workforce by 2025, and that will reach 35% by 2031.
“A lot of companies have made positive strides in their diversity approach and we are starting to see a lot more women in technical roles,” said Julie Mungai, manager, cyber risk advisory. “But we still need to do more to cultivate a culture where girls embrace tech from a young age.”
We’re proud to say women make up 57% of the BARR team. And when it comes to leadership roles, 78% of these women hold senior-level positions or higher.
“I came to BARR about two and a half years ago, and within my first year I was promoted from senior consultant to manager,” said Whitney Perez, director of quality. “I’m proud to be surrounded by so many incredible female industry leaders, both at BARR and in positions within our client and partner organizations. I’m lucky to have had a number of women as mentors to help me get to where I am today, and I’m happy to serve as a mentor for other women who are eager to learn the ropes.”
Perez comes from an accounting background, venturing into IT and SOC auditing while attending her university’s career fair. She hopes more women will consider it as a career path.
“Don’t be afraid because you feel like you don’t know anything about cybersecurity,” said Perez. “What I have found more than anything is that this industry is full of insightful people who love to share knowledge and help others succeed.”
The ISC² report also indicates women are bringing in higher levels of education and more certifications than their male counterparts, and therefore climbing the leadership ladder at a faster pace. In fact, 52% of women in cybersecurity hold a post-graduate degree compared to 44% of men.
We asked Kyle Helles, head of attest services, and one of the female leaders at BARR with the longest tenure, why she feels it is important for women to have a place in tech.
“Cybersecurity and tech issues require creative solutions driven by technical knowledge, critical analysis skills, collaboration, and thought diversity. Without women working to help solve these issues, we’ll be highly unlikely to come to the best possible outcome. With the amount and sensitivity of data companies are being trusted with increasing every day, we would be at a great loss without the unique perspectives of women.”
Helles also noted the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals and the widening skills gap in tech. “We need all hands on deck to fill these open positions. Young women interested in joining the tech industry should absolutely feel empowered and encouraged. We need their help.”
Oftentimes, the lack of female mentors in the tech industry can turn potential female candidates away. And, believe it or not, only five% of tech startup founders are women. For that, Mungai has this piece of advice:
“While I believe it is important to be vocal and emphasize the importance of women getting seats—especially leadership seats in the tech space—it is equally important to tell young girls they don’t need to wait for these seats to be offered. We can build our own tables.”
Sharon Means, integrator at BARR, is also passionate about mentoring women in leadership. She holds a CPA license and has proven success in supporting leadership teams, ensuring personal and organizational goals are being met.
“I’m passionate about helping people, especially women, achieve their potential within their professional careers. It’s important to me to bring my leadership skills to the table and serve as a mentor for women who work in the technology industry. Empowering women in these roles can only benefit the whole team, because when everyone has equal opportunity for success, efficiency and productivity rise as well.”
If you’re a woman considering a career in cybersecurity, here is something to keep in mind from Helles: “Dive in and be patient with yourself. Know that no one, no matter their gender, is born with a cybersecurity skill set. If you’re passionate about cybersecurity, you belong in cybersecurity.”