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Closing Cybersecurity's Race Gap

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Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee speaking about cybersecurity at the Capitol Hill event.

Experts from government and the private sector came together last week to discuss the government cybersecurity labor shortage and the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the field.

Credit: Federal Computer Week

During an event last week on Capitol Hill, experts from the private sector and government discussed the dual issues of a government cybersecurity labor shortage and the significant underrepresentation of women and minorities in the field.

The event was organized by the office of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), the Institute for Critical Infrastructure and Technology, and the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP).

According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, fewer than one in five information security analysts are women, and only 9.7 percent are African American and 6.1 percent are Latino. However, as ICMCP board chairman Julian Waits pointed out, although there are not enough women and minorities in the field, there are not enough people of any background to cover the demand for cybersecurity workers.

Throughout the day, panelists offered a variety of ideas for how to improve minority representation in cybersecurity. Some suggested organizations take measures such as removing the names from resumes to combat subconscious bias in hiring processes. Education and mentorship also were important themes.

Howard University's Computer Science Department chair Legand Burge III discussed the importance of role models, noting how his father obtaining a Ph.D. in electrical engineering helped inspire him to pursue cybersecurity early in life.

From Federal Computer Week
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Abstracts Copyright © 2015 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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