Women in Cybersecurity: Why are they a Minority?

  • CERT Admin
  • Wed Oct 25 2017
  • Cyber Guardian Blog



The answer to the question on why women are a minority in the cybersecurity field can be quite challenging. The statistics which was released in 2017 says that only 11 percent of women make up the cybersecurity workforce. In this generation of growing threats and talent shortage, women can play a significant role in the Cybersecurity field but as per the information recorded, it is definitely not helping unless the cybersecurity professionals take initiative to change this fact. Who is responsible for this change to take effect? 

Cybersecurity is not a business or a governmental matter, we are all online, so it affects all of us. Therefore in order to populate women in this field, all organizations have the responsibility in introducing young women to the fields because to realize what they want to do in their future, they must try or do something related to that specific field. The exposure to the cybersecurity field is very important to enhance ones talent and the interest. 

This exposure can be given to young girls or ladies at different stages or ways. For instance, introducing ladies at their school levels to this field can be one of those effective solutions because school level ambitions can have long term effects when they choose their future career. 

Exposing them to the field is not restricted to a certain level, it is very important to inform them that it is not only about technical aspects but also talking to businesses because one misconception backing ladies from this field is that they tend to think that a “Hacker” is someone who must know extreme programming with extreme technical skills, must have the ability to stay all night hacking into systems and being a “Male” is more suitable. We as people in the industry must have the responsibility to make them aware that ladies working in this field have work, private and social lives and at the same time makes them more agile to face different situations. One thing they need to develop is working with personal data because to deal with the personal data they need to build their trust with each other which can eventually help them to work with security professional as a team. Personally, I believe starting their cybersecurity career as an intern or from a beginner level can give them more knowledge on the work done on the field but it is also important for them to blend with new people in the field and to have a good portfolio of mentors who will help them to mend the path. 

While delivering this information to the young ladies, it is our duty to be an example to all of them, young generations tend to follow role models rather than just listening to advises, the image below shows an Israeli-born cyber security analyst and senior researcher on hackers and technology. We should all know that a woman with the right kind of crime skill set, trustworthiness and a positive attitude can become a strong cybersecurity warrior. We need more women to make the industry better and the industry itself plays a huge part in making women more productive by adding more colors to their personality. 

Figure 1: Keren Elazari at TED2014 


To conclude this article I would like to emphasize the point that women have the potential and the interest to join the cybersecurity field but we as industry professionals must increase the awareness as well as clear the misconceptions of this field so hopefully in the near future the above said statistics for women in cybersecurity will be increased to solve the problems of the workforce shortage and bring new and unique talents among the cybersecurity workforce. 




Hansani Vihanga Halwatura 

Vihanga is an undergraduate of General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University who is currently following BSC(Hons in Information Technology). Currently she is working as Intern - Information Security Engineer at Sri Lanka CERT|CC  

Last updated: Wed Oct 25 2017