21 October 2020

Report: Women, minorities still face too many barriers in cybersecurity

Synack

Synack’s first Cybersecurity Diversity and Inclusion Report spotlights ongoing challenges in the industry and gains for women and minorities

Author: Mike Farrell

Synack released its first Cybersecurity Diversity and Inclusion Report today in an effort to better understand where the industry needs to focus attention and resources to break down barriers and develop new pathways for women and people of color to find long-term success and excel within the field.

To build the report, we teamed up with students from the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. They surveyed 300 people working across all levels of the industry about racial and gender diversity within their companies, barriers they face based on gender or race and representation across the field.

The vast majority of both men and women surveyed said there still isn’t enough diversity in cybersecurity and most women said they still face the proverbial “glass ceiling” limiting their progress. Even more troubling, 71 percent of minority women said a “glass ceiling” still limited their advancement.

Key data points:

  • 77 percent of female respondents said they felt like they have a “seat at the table” inside their organizations
  • Nearly 60 percent of women said representation at industry events is improving, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to ensure equal representation. 
  • 25 percent of respondents estimated that their organizations had 1 or fewer women executives
  • 53 percent of respondents estimated that their organizations have 1 or fewer minority executives
  • 54 percent of minority respondents said they experienced either a great deal or a moderate amount of bias based on their ethnicity or background. 

In the foreword for the report, Aisling MacRunnels, Synack Chief Business & Growth Officer, said: “In cybersecurity, diversity and the ability for all voices to be heard is so important. To build TRUST and make the cyber world a safer place, we truly need a diverse, representative crowd working together. We hope this report can add to the vital conversation on how to make our industry more equitable, inclusive and, as a result, better equipped to improve security for everyone.”

Numerous studies have shown that diverse teams are more innovative and companies that prioritize diversity are even more profitable. Additionally, diverse teams help organizations spot threats that may impact underrepresented groups. 

“Building teams composed of diverse viewpoints and conscious of race issues can help elevate those nuances, identify new tactics, techniques, and procedures, and adapt detection to relevant environments. This ultimately will better enable the United States to combat disinformation and misinformation at home and abroad,” said Camille Stewart, Head of Security Policy for Google Play and Android at Google, in a recent blog post.

Synack is committed to working toward this change as we believe in the value of diversity and inclusion. Crowdsourced cybersecurity works best with a variety of perspectives, backgrounds and experiences.

“We have to do better. It won’t be easy, but we need to work harder to ensure everyone—regardless of race or gender—has a chance to succeed in this industry. We need a diversity of people and ideas if we’re going to make everyone more secure,” said Jay Kaplan, Synack CEO and Co-Founder. “It’s imperative that we make this community more inclusive and find new and engaging ways to create opportunity for women and minorities.”

Click here to download the full report.