Women in IT Security

Less than half of ethnic minority professionals in cyber feel they get equal opportunities

In a survey of cybersecurity professionals, both ethnic minority respondents as well as women said they were not given the same opportunities as their white or male counterparts.

The survey of around 300 practitioners of all ethnicities and genders was conducted by Synack and the University of California-Berkeley.

"Security is traditionally a white, male space," Aisling MacRunnels, Synack's chief business and growth officer, told SC Media. MacRunnels wrote the forward for the report.

According to the survey, 47 percent of minority workers and 66 percent of women believe they see the same opportunities for advancement because of their gender or ethnicity. That is compared with 88 percent of men.

And, according to the report, intersectionality made a difference. Fifty-three percent of women as a whole believed there was a "glass ceiling" to how far they might progress at their company. For minority women, that rose to 71 percent.

Asked if they feel like they are treated as if they "belong" in the cybersecurity community, 32 percent of women and 27 percent of minority workers answered "no."

A widely-cited 2018 study from (ISC)² showed that minority workers made up around a quarter of the industry. They earned less, were less likely to hold management positions and were less likely to have received a raise in the past year than their white counterparts.

MacRunnels believes that while the statistics are jarring, there may be room for optimism. Cybersecurity, she said, is more diverse than it ever has been.

"But we have a long way to go," she said.

Joe Uchill

Joe is a senior reporter at SC Weekly, focused on policy issues. He previously covered cybersecurity for Axios, The Hill and the Christian Science Monitor’s short-lived Passcode website.

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