Cybersecurity faces a diversity crisis. As cyberthreats rapidly evolve and a talent shortage looms, the makeup of the cybersecurity workforce remains remarkably homogeneous. A deep dive into the data around gender, race, age, disability and other factors reveals an industry still struggling to represent today‘s diverse society. For cybersecurity to fully rise to modern challenges, a culture shift focused on inclusion is critical. Examining the latest diversity statistics provides an urgent call to action – and a roadmap for the changes needed.
Cybersecurity Severely Lacks Gender Diversity
The gender gap in cybersecurity remains glaring. As of 2021, just 24% of cybersecurity professionals were women, according to data from DataUSA. While paltry, this does represent progress – women comprised only 11% of the cybersecurity workforce in 2013, per the Executive Women‘s Forum. However, parity remains a distant goal.
Let‘s look at the numbers:
- Women made up 24% of the cybersecurity workforce in 2021, up from 11% in 2013
- If current trends continue, women will reach 35% of cyber roles by 2031
- For context, women make up nearly 50% of the US workforce across all industries
Growth in women‘s cybersecurity participation continues, but too gradually. Indeed, if present trends persist, we won‘t reach gender parity until 2045 – an unacceptable timeline.
How does cybersecurity stack up against other tech fields? Poorly. For example, video game design’s workforce is 32% female, according to DataUSA. Yet women comprise just 24% of cybersecurity roles.
|% Female Employees
|Video Game Design
Beyond representation, cybersecurity exhibits a stubborn gender pay gap. 30% of women continue to earn less than equivalent male counterparts, according to BLS data. An improvement from five years ago when 50% of women made less, but still unacceptable.
In summary, women remain sorely underrepresented in cybersecurity today. Growth trends will gradually shrink this gap over the next decade, but proactive inclusion initiatives can accelerate progress. There is no reason cybersecurity cannot match or exceed the gender diversity of related tech fields. The time for change is now.
Racial and Ethnic Diversity Stagnates at Low Levels
Cybersecurity workforce statistics categorized by race reveal an industry still dominated by white employees. According to the Aspen Institute, only 9% of cybersecurity professionals belonged to an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority as of 2022.
Breaking down the latest data:
- 5% of cybersecurity employees were Black or African American
- 2% were Hispanic or Latino
- 1% were American Indian or Alaska Native
- 1% were Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
Compare this to overall US demographic data, where Black Americans comprise 12.4% of the population, Hispanics 18.7%, Asians 5.9%, and those identifying as two or more races total 2.8%, according to Census Bureau estimates.
Clearly, the cybersecurity field does not yet reflect the true diversity of the nation it protects. The roots of this disparity trace back to systemic inequalities in access to quality STEM education and technology exposure from a young age. Workforce diversity programs must directly counteract these gaps for cybersecurity to ever reach its inclusion potential.
Younger Professionals See Gradual Increases in Representation
Cybersecurity workforce statistics sorted by age reveal a persistent tilt towards mid-career professionals. Employees aged 35-54 still comprise 52% of the field, while younger professionals aged 19-34 represent just 30% of the workforce according to CompTIA research.
With cybersecurity a rapidly evolving industry facing an overwhelming skills shortage, bringing more young people into the talent pipeline is critical. Entry-level positions, internships, mentoring programs and technology-focused education from elementary school onward provide key opportunities to balance out age diversity.
At the other end of the spectrum, cybersecurity exhibits low retention numbers for staff nearing retirement age. Just 6% of employees remain in the field past age 65, even though lifespans and working years continue to extend. Tapping into this wealth of experience represents another inclusion opportunity.
Though gradual, shifts are occurring. Younger cyber professionals increased from 15% of the workforce in 2015 to 30% in 2021, CompTIA data shows. Still, proactive efforts to draw in Millennial and Gen Z talent remain essential to fill crucial skills gaps.
Employees with Disabilities See Depressing Underrepresentation
Statistics on cybersecurity professionals with disabilities depict a landscape of exclusion. Just 14% of cybersecurity employees identify as having a disability, according to KPMG research.
For context, 1 in 4 American adults live with a disability according to Census Bureau data. With the proper accessibility tools, workplace flexibility and inclusive culture, nearly all types of disabilities can be reasonably accommodated for cybersecurity roles.
The root issue traces back to social stigma and lack of visible disabled professionals thriving in technology fields. By spotlighting diverse role models and building a culture of inclusion, cybersecurity can tap into this vast pool of untapped potential.
Why Does Cybersecurity Diversity Matter?
Beyond reflecting society‘s makeup, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) provides tangible benefits for the cybersecurity field:
- Diverse teams generate better outcomes – Overwhelming research shows diversity improves decision making, problem solving, innovation, and overall team performance.
- Inclusion helps address the skills shortage – With over 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings expected globally by 2025, we must leverage talent from all backgrounds to fill critical needs.
- Fairness and ethics demand it – Discrimination actively hurts productivity, stifles potential, and contradicts modern values. True inclusion allows everyone to thrive based on merit.
Cyber threats continuously evolve in sophistication and scale. To keep pace, cybersecurity requires diversity of thought and an inclusive culture that empowers innovation.
Steps to Improve Cybersecurity Diversity
While current statistics reveal ongoing challenges, proactive initiatives can build a more inclusive and representative cybersecurity workforce:
- Institute mentorship, training, and recruitment programs specifically targeting women, minorities, new grads, the disabled, LGBTQ+ people, neurodiverse individuals, returning citizens and other underrepresented groups. Actively invest in this untapped talent pool.
- Partner with organizations promoting STEM/cyber education across all demographics – especially K-12 schools in underserved communities. Inspire the next generation of cyber talent.
- Speak out against stereotypes, discrimination or bias when encountered. Foster an inclusive culture where everyone can contribute freely.
- Highlight employees from diverse backgrounds as leaders and role models. Show that cybersecurity offers potential for all.
- Ensure remote work options, flexible schedules, accessibility tools, and cybersecurity are available to all employees based on need.
The data shows cybersecurity is falling short of its inclusion potential. But the trends are shifting in the right direction. With sustained commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, we can build a workforce ready to overcome any challenge – digital or social. Are you with me?