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5 reasons Cybersecurity is a fantastic career for female students to consider

Cybersecurity is an exciting and growing field of study and employment, expecting an increase to an estimated 1.5 million unfilled jobs within the U.S. by 2020 (Frost & Sullivan, 2017).  These are generally high-paying jobs, which are challenging, interesting, and flexible.

Here are 5 reasons cybersecurity is a fantastic career for female students to consider:

 

1) Women have many advantages in Cybersecurity

Careers in cybersecurity offer significant advancement paths for women, gained through programs designed to interest, train, cultivate, and ultimately retain female talent.

Due to a gender gap, opportunities for women within the field of cybersecurity are incredible.   This is no doubt due to the fact that women only represent about 11% representation in what is currently a male-dominated profession (Frost & Sullivan, 2017).

I have personally received mentoring and been granted many chances to grow and demonstrate my merit and succeed throughout my career.  Women love to 

Women are not attracted to cybersecurity as much as I think we should be.  Besides excellent education and employment, it represents a wealth of prospects for building a fun and solid career.

 

2) A range of cybersecurity jobs exist that can benefit from any type of her natural abilities

Security specialists represent an extensive range of roles that can be taken on, from defenders to programmers to project managers to auditors to people who simulate attacks a malicious hacker might do.  

Whatever a girl’s talent, there is a good fit for her in the security industry.  Whether she is better at math or art, prefers writing or talking to people, there is a place for her.

Below are some examples of security positions that women with different talents and abilities might consider:

– Creative:  Systems design and architecture, Programming (because code is an art form), Consulting

– Recommend women to follow on Twitter:  @vajkat  @k8em0 @SecBarbie

– Detail-Oriented:  Compliance, Audit, Engineering, Analysis, Research

– Recommend women to follow on Twitter: @hacks4pancakes @malwareunicorn @mzbat

– Natural Leader:  CISO, CSO, Process, Speaking, Training, Project Management

– Recommend women to follow on Twitter: @wendynather @aprilwright @SecureSun

– Thrill Seeker: Penetration Testing, Incident Response

– Recommend women to follow on Twitter: @HydeNS33k  @SultryAsian @_sn0ww 

These are just some examples, and there are many, many more roles that a woman can choose as a specialty.  Also, your specialty or specialties can change.  You don’t have to be one role for your entire career if you don’t want to.  A woman can change jobs based on what their interests are or learn a new skill at any time.  If you start out as an analyst, you can decide you’re interested in programming, and either focus on programming or combine the two skills.  There is essentially no such thing as knowing too much in the security industry.

 

3) She can succeed whether she is extroverted or introverted

One misconception about cybersecurity is that is made up of introverts working in their basements, not talking to anyone for days. This may be true for some folks, but soft skills and people-oriented women are needed throughout organizations in order to balance and further the social system.  

Extroverts can find many fulfilling roles in management, sales, training, or speaking.  We bring energy to group activities and are able to create and maintain relationships across an organization that can help a team execute their vision.

Introverts can absolutely succeed in cybersecurity, and it’s one of the best industries for this personality type!  Many introverted women (and men!) are successful based primarily on their technical skills and conscientiousness.  Certain roles within security can require a great deal of concentration, preparation, creativity, and practice which introverts have an abundance of.

Many people, including myself, fall somewhere in between extroverted and introverted, and I like to call us ‘omniverts’.  We are able to spend a weekend working on a project with no human contact, or we can be assertive and take charge when it needs to be done.

I tend to fall more on the introverted side of the line.  My current role frequently requires using “soft skills”, which are characteristics many women possess.  Soft skills are related to emotional intelligence and include skills such as communication, decision-making, leadership, team-work, and problem-solving.  

But don’t worry: if she doesn’t know these skills today, they can be learned!  I have not always had particularly good soft skills, so I learned, practiced, and developed them.  Soft skills have helped me improve my career and life; they were not difficult to comprehend but did require some effort on my part.  Learning these skills was worth every minute of my time.

 

4) She can benefit from a lot of flexibility as a cybersecurity professional

Whether a woman wants to have a family or not, a career in cybersecurity can offer lots of work-life balance and flexibility.  

Companies want happy employees, and invest heavily in us, so convenience benefits help to attract and retain talent.  

Many jobs today allow either part-time or full-time telecommuting, which can make it easier to juggle having a family and having a meaningful career while avoiding the stress of a commute. If you want to travel or live literally anywhere, a remote-work cybersecurity job is a wonderful option.

Don’t want to work a traditional 9-5 job?  It’s not necessary.  Many positions have flexible hours day-to-day, or perhaps she would rather work 4 days at 10 hours a day and have a 3 day weekend every week?  I’ve seen these all as options.

It usually doesn’t matter what her degree focus was.  If you have a liberal arts degree, or an MBA, you can still be a great security professional.  Hiring managers look for interest, passion, knowledge and either an ability to learn, or deep knowledge and consistency, depending on the role.  Experience is generally considered to be of greater importance than where you started out.  I built a successful career without having a two or four-year degree, and I did eventually graduate in my late 30’s with a Bachelor’s degree.  It’s fascinating to find out how many professionals have such varied backgrounds, relying on their skills and knowledge more than their education.

 

5) Cybersecurity matters.

The privacy and security of our data is important.  

Personal data, national secrets, and corporate information assets are under constant threat.  Digital attacks happen every minute of every day, and the primary goals of cybersecurity is to try to prevent, stop, and recover from these attacks.

From airplanes to food manufacturers, self-driving cars to social media, cybersecurity is a critical aspect of human safety, personal privacy, and national security.  There is a shortage of defenders who want to make the world a more secure place.  We are dedicated to protecting the information of billions of people, which is incredibly meaningful work.  Cyber defenders are exceptional people who provide a crucial service for our society, which is also very self-fulfilling.  

In the world of cybersecurity, women can achieve career goals through high-paying, flexible, meaningful jobs that suit their abilities and personality.  

 

References:

https://www.cybercompex.org/fileSendAction/fcType/0/fcOid/445471828686010375/filePointer/445471828686010530/fodoid/445471828686010527/frostsullivan-ISC2-global-information-security-workforce-2015.pdf