Here’s A Tech Problem To Debug: Why Are So Few Women In Cybersecurity?

By Tim Johnson
McClatchy Washington Bureau

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Only 14 percent of the U.S. workforce in cybersecurity is female. Those women that do break into the industry talk of glass ceilings, insensitivity in the workplace, a lack of mentors and popular culture that reinforces the image of male tech workers.

WASHINGTON

Ellison Anne Williams has a Ph.D. in mathematics, vast experience at the den of wizards known as the National Security Agency and entrepreneurial chops. She’s accomplished and smart.

So what happened to her at a recent business meeting left her dismayed, although it is far from uncommon for women in cybersecurity.

“I was in the room and the fellow walked in. He stopped dead in his tracks and the first words out of his mouth were, ‘You’re a girl.’ And I said, ‘Yes, what were you expecting?'” said Williams, founder and chief executive of Enveil, a Fulton, Md., data security company.

Males hold 3 out of 4 jobs in the tech world, but it is in cybersecurity where the lack of participation of women is most acute. By one reckoning, only 14 percent of the U.S. workforce in cybersecurity is female.

Those women that do break into the industry talk of glass ceilings, insensitivity in the workplace, a lack of mentors and popular culture that reinforces the image of male tech workers.

The gender imbalance has potential consequences for the nation’s security. The United States already suffers a shortage of cybersecurity workers, even as global hacking threats grow more acute.

The labor shortage is forecast to worsen. A study last year by Frost & Sullivan, a consulting firm, found that North America will face a shortage of 265,000 cybersecurity workers by 2022.

Prod just about any woman at a cybersecurity firm and anecdotes pour forth.

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