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The Growing Need For More Women Cybersleuths

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A woman reviewing code.

Recent online hacks have served to highlight the growing need for cybersecurity professionals, including women.


The recent rash of online hacks highlights a mounting need for cybersecurity professionals, including women.

"Fifty percent or more of those graduating from college are women, and 11 percent only are in the cybersecurity field," notes IBM Security vice president Shelley Westman. "So what we see is as an industry, we're leaving a lot of talent on the table."

A July conference in New York City sought to recruit more women to cybersecurity, mainly by appealing to high school and college students as well as those looking for a career change. Westman reasons women can not only fill several hundred thousand open cybersecurity positions in the U.S., but they also can bring a fresh perspective. She says balanced teams of both genders "are able to look at things a little bit differently and make sure that you're really looking at all causes, all effects, and really get to the heart of the problem."

Obstacles to bringing more women into the cybersecurity fold include a long-entrenched perception of women as less technically smart than men, and stereotypical views of hackers that can be off-putting to women. New York University professor Nasir Memon says dispelling such stereotypes of professionals and the cybersecurity work environment is essential.

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