Deborah Gage, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), shares how nonprofits, such as TechGirlz, and tech companies are working to get younger girls interested in cyber security. The full article was originally published May 29, 2018 in the Business and Journal Reports: Leadership section of The Wall Street Journal online. Additionally, it appeared in the May 30, 2018, print edition of The Wall Street Journal.
There is a shortage of workers in cybersecurity and a shortage of women in tech jobs. New efforts to get girls interested in cybersecurity are aimed at tackling both of those problems.
Boston University, the SANS Institute and nonprofits such as TechGirlz are among the organizations sponsoring camps and contests to teach girls about coding and how to solve cybersecurity problems. Technology firms are getting into the act, too: Palo Alto Networks Inc. has helped develop a cybersecurity curriculum for the Girl Scouts, which will start awarding cybersecurity badges in September, while Symantec Corp. has given a grant to the American Association of University Women to develop a cybersecurity class for middle-school girls.
The goal is to inspire more girls to pursue careers as information-security analysts, a field the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will grow 28% from 2016 to 2026. Women today fill just 11% of cybersecurity jobs globally, according to a 2017 report from the Center for Cyber Safety and Education and the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management & Privacy . And the women who do work in cybersecurity hold fewer positions of authority and are paid less, on average, compared with men in the field despite having higher levels of education, the report found.
Michele Guel, a distinguished engineer at Cisco Systems Inc., battled the Morris Worm, considered to be one of the first pieces of malware, at NASA Ames in 1988. She says some girls have the wrong idea about cybersecurity, which could explain at least some of the gender gap.
John Cusimano, the director of industrial cybersecurity at aeSolutions who also teaches
cybersecurity workshops to middle-school girls at TechGirlz, says there is no technical reason for the gender gap, which is “right in my face at every conference.”
One of the big challenges for girls is to help them develop the self-confidence to persist through male-dominated classes in high school and college and a male-dominated workforce.
Check out our TechShopz in a Box Cybersecurity topics: Intro to Encryption – How to Protect Your Information, How Computers Talk: Introduction to Network Communications, and Cyber Stalking: How to Keep Your Personal Information Safe.