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CISA Pushes to Close Cybersecurity Gender, Workforce Gap by Advancing Women

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The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has struck an activist deal with Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) to work together to close the gender gap in cybersecurity.

Fostering a Talent Pipeline

In recognition of International Women’s Day, CISA and WiCyS organizations signed a memorandum of understanding to formally partner to build a pipeline for the next generation of women in cybersecurity. WiCyS is a non-profit organization whose mission is to recruit, retain and advance women in cybersecurity roles.

While a number of tech companies have attempted to close the gender gap with specific programs to promote diversity, attaining that goal has been difficult. But this collaboration might prove more fruitful. Out of the gate, the collaborators will advance CISA’s role in the WiCyS mentorship program, which matches professional women in cyber with women new to the field to help them prepare for a cybersecurity career.

CISA Director Jen Easterly has publicly called for a 50% participation of women and underrepresented minorities into the cybersecurity field by 2030. Currently, by one measure women hold 25% of cybersecurity jobs. Another estimate pegs it much lower at 17%.

In the last five years, the number of women in cybersecurity jobs has steadily, if slightly, declined from 18.7% to 16.8%, according to Zippia, a cybersecurity demographic specialist.

“As a senior leader in cyber, one of my top priorities is to inspire more women and girls to see themselves in cyber and join this exciting and impactful field,” Easterly said.

Lynn Dohm, executive director of WiCyS, said the joint effort will serve to provide women and other under-represented groups with tools and resources to “jump start” their career in cybersecurity and to be “supported throughout their journey.”

CISA Partners with Girl Scouts

Meanwhile, CISA has simultaneously signed on with the Girl Scouts of America in a similar collaboration to bridge the gender gap in cybersecurity. Without women pursuing careers in cybersecurity, the industry is “missing out on a huge portion of the population’s talent pool” in the GSUSA, the organizations said. “It is critical to foster an interest in cybersecurity in young girls, even as early as grade school."

CISA and GSUSA already have a history of working together. In 2017, CISA provided thought collaboration and helped steer the creation of GSUSA’s 18 cybersecurity badges. Additionally, in 2021, the Department of Homeland Security and CISA partnered with CYBER.ORG and GSUSA to launch the 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge to help develop the next generation of diverse cybersecurity talent. In July 2023, the agency will participate in the 2023 Girl Scout Convention.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.