Security Staff Acquisition & Development, Leadership

CISA, Girls Who Code team up to build early career pipeline for women

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(“First Lady Frances Wolf Joins ‘Girls Who Code’ CEO to Highlight Investment in STEM Education for Young Women” by governortomwolf is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is teaming up with the non-profit Girls Who Code to develop and strengthen career pipelines for women in cybersecurity.

The partnership, according to a press release, will look for ways “to heighten the awareness of cybersecurity and technology careers” and work with employers to “build tangible pathways for young women, especially young women of color, to get hands-on experience in the private sector, the non-profit sector, or government.”

Tarika Barrett, CEO of Girls Who Code, said the partnership with CISA marked another step towards “a world where our computer science classrooms are as diverse as our communities; a world where women in computing careers have a sisterhood to lean on; and a world where that sisterhood creates real change for communities everywhere.”

CISA Director Jen Easterly said getting more young girls to pursue cybersecurity or technology careers is one of her top priorities at CISA and that initiatives to boost female and nonbinary representation goes hand-in-hand with good cybersecurity.

“The gender gap that exists in the cybersecurity workforce contributes to the overall cyber workforce shortage that persists in the United States and globally, which ultimately makes us less prepared to deal with the threats of today and tomorrow,” said Easterly. “I couldn’t be more excited about our partnership with Girls Who Code to help build the next generation of cyber talent where young women, everywhere, can see themselves in cyber.”

Despite a growing career pipeline for female talent and women in high-profile, powerful roles in government and the private sector, the information security community still struggles to move past its (well-deserved) historical reputation as an unwelcoming place for women and people of color.

There are signs that the community is doing giving the topic more than lip service. Research from ISC this year iThere are signs the community is starting to give the topic more than lip service. Research from ISC this year indicates that women now make up about 24% of the overall cybersecurity workforce, more than double the 11% that was reported as recently as 2017. That still represents a worrying percentage when women account for nearly half of the overall workforce and slightly more than half of the global population.  

SC Media’s Annual Women in IT Security project looks at both the successes and inequities that women experience in the cybersecurity field. You can read more about this topic here.

Derek B. Johnson

Derek is a senior editor and reporter at SC Media, where he has spent the past three years providing award-winning coverage of cybersecurity news across the public and private sectors. Prior to that, he was a senior reporter covering cybersecurity policy at Federal Computer Week. Derek has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Hofstra University in New York and a master’s degree in public policy from George Mason University in Virginia.

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