Gender Diversity Considerations in Training: Avoiding Unintended Biases
By Rachel Virgil
When deciding which secure coding training program is right for you and your team, it’s important to choose a program that won’t unintentionally alienate certain groups. In 2021, it’s common knowledge that diversity improves performance and business outcomes, although the field of cybersecurity lags precariously behind other fields in terms of gender and ethnic diversity. If your goal is to improve the overall security of your company’s software by integrating secure coding practices into your software development lifecycle, there are certain considerations you and you and your company’s Chief Information Security Officer can make to ensure you are setting your team — and company — up for greater success.
How bad is the diversity problem in cybersecurity? Research suggests that only 11 percent of jobs in the global cybersecurity workforce are held by women. This is unfortunate for many reasons, one of which is that gender-diverse teams are smarter, and have been found to outperform homogenous teams in decision-making tasks. According to the Harvard Business Review, “by breaking up workplace homogeneity, you can allow your employees to become more aware of their own potential biases — entrenched ways of thinking that can otherwise blind them to key information and even lead them to make errors in decision-making processes.” With a global talent shortage in cybersecurity threats listed by Gartner as the top threat to businesses in 2019, with almost half of organizations surveyed as having experienced “security incidents due to lack of security staff or specific skill sets over the past two years,” it’s time to think hard about how to close staffing gaps and create more diversity in the industry.
When assessing some of the reasons why women seem to be repelled from the field of cybersecurity, researchers have turned to examining language — specifically, how unintentionally gendered language may play a role in keeping women at bay. An analysis conducted by CSO Online looked at the language in recruiting ads and found nearly twice as many male-gendered terms as it did female-gendered terms in job ads. The researchers hypothesize this is one of the reasons why women aren’t seeking jobs in this field. If language is deterring women from entering the field of…