U.S. Has World’s Worst Gender Gap in Cyber Security Education

According to the results of a recent survey of 3,871 adults aged 18 to 26 in Australia, Estonia, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Qatar, the Republic of Korea, the U.K., the United Arab Emirates and the U.S., 52 percent of female respondents said they felt no cyber security programs or activities were available to them, compared to 39 percent of male respondents.

The study, entitled “Securing Our Future: Closing the Cybersecurity Talent Gap” [PDF], was commissioned by Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and conducted by Zogby Analytics from July 29 to August 10, 2015.

Among those respondents who said they’re less likely now than they were a year ago to choose a career in cyber security, 25 percent of women gave lack of interest in that area of work as the reason, compared to just 17 percent of men.

In the U.S., the gap was even greater — 36 percent of women said they weren’t interested in cyber security, compared to just 12 percent of men.

Fifty-seven percent of men and 66 percent of women worldwide said no teacher or career counselor had ever mentioned the idea of a career in cyber security to them. Once again, the gender gap was greater in the U.S., where 55 percent of men and 69 percent of women said no teacher or career counselor had suggested cyber security.

Globally, 33 percent of men and 24 percent of women said they’re more likely than they were a year ago to consider a career in cyber security. In the U.S., 40 percent of men and just 23 percent of women said they’re more likely to do so than they were a year ago.

And while 25 percent of women and 23 percent of men worldwide said they hadn’t sought out cyber security programs because they didn’t think they were qualified, 33 percent of women and 24 percent of men in the U.S. said so.

“Not only are we missing obvious opportunity to remediate a global shortfall of cybersecurity workers, but we’re also seeing the problem compounded by leaving women behind when it comes to cybersecurity education, programs and careers,” Valecia Maclin, program director of cybersecurity and special missions at Raytheon, said in a statement.

“It’s critical that public and private partnerships focus on encouraging young girls to foster an interest in science, technology, engineering and math, so that more women are prepared to enter this burgeoning field and help create a diverse, talented workforce,” Maclin added.

Only 60 percent of survey respondents worldwide said a computer was introduced to their classrooms by age nine — and 62 percent of men and 75 percent of women said no secondary or high school computer classes had offered the skills to help them pursue a career in cyber security.

“There seems to be latent interest in cyber careers, as half of young adults say believing in the mission of their employer is important and 63 percent say making money is important,” NCSA executive director Michael Kaiser said in a statement. “Cybersecurity jobs offer a clear path to both — we just need to do a better job of spreading the word.”

Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman has been a technology journalist for more than 20 years and an eSecurity Planet contributor since 2009.

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