Diversity in Cyber Security: Exploring the Skills Gap
Summary of the DSIT annual Cyber Security Skills Report for 2023.
The Department for Science, Innovation & Technology released their annual finding report on the Cyber security skills in the UK labour market 2023 and the results aren’t as promising as industry would have hoped. The whole report can be found here Ipsos report (publishing.service.gov.uk).
What's Going Wrong?
The report highlighted a consistent lack of diversity across minorities, disabled and those who were neurodivergent. Of great concern was women in cyber and not just because WiTCH is a women in tech group. Unfortunately, a positive upward trend of women employed in the sector that was seen over the last three years was not sustained with only 17% of the workforce being made up of women compared to 22% in 2022. The report also found that women in senior roles is only 14% which is not any worse or better than previous years. This report does not include intersectionality such as women of colour or women who were disabled or neurodiverse but the overall data of these groups points to a severe lack of representation in industry as a whole.
This is not just a problem we are seeing at the employment stage, women only represent 11% of the graduates at the undergraduate level which increases to 23% for postgraduate participation by women. These numbers are still incredibly low and reflect the percentages being seen in the workforce.
So What's Going Right?
Not all the news was bad news a few of the promising findings revolved around demand and remote working. According to the report in 2022, there were 160,035 relevant job postings, of which 71,054 job postings were across core cyber roles – This is an increase of 33% from 2021. Even with some slowing in the second half of the year cyber roles are still vastly out pacing the numbers of individuals entering the cyber security field meaning there is demand to be filled. Whether this is through traditional education or through bootcamps and independent learning WiTCH is looking to support women looking to enter cyber security to help fill these gaps with cohorts for mentorship and partnerships to help provide better pipelines for women in cyber security. Another positive to take away form the report is that cyber is still leading the way for remote working. The researchers estimated that 28% of the job postings for the core cyber roles had no regional location listed, which is an increase from 21% in 2021 and 13% in 2020 which really highlights a positive trend of companies embracing remote and hybrid working. While this is a hugely positive trend, it does not mean that it is time to relax, this needs to remain at the forefront of cyber security positions as this can lead to increased diversity as roles are more flexible.
So What's Next?
There is still work to be done to get women into cyber and more importantly to keep women in cyber. Companies must implement policies and practices that foster an inclusive environment, where individuals of all neurotypes, genders and backgrounds can thrive and contribute effectively. WiTCH’s goal is help support women entering cyber security as well as provide continued support to help women reach those senior roles.