Microsoft uses research to find causes of cybersecurity gender gap

Surface Laptop 4 Amd 2021 Keyboard Lights
Surface Laptop 4 Amd 2021 Keyboard Lights (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Corporate Vice President Vasu Jakkal released a blog post discussing the gender gap in cybersecurity.
  • In the post, it's stated that as of 2021, women constituted roughly 25% of the worldwide cybersecurity worker pool.
  • Microsoft commissioned a survey to learn more about the factors in play that are fueling the gender gap.

Though Microsoft released a pack of Edge browser themes in honor of International Women's Day and Women's History Month, that's not all it's doing. As mentioned in a blog post by corporate vice president Vasu Jakkal, the company has also commissioned a survey to learn more about what may be contributing to the gender gap in cybersecurity.

Jakkal's post (opens in new tab), entitled "2.5 million-plus cybersecurity jobs are open — women can fill them" begins with a discussion about the drawbacks of having a cybersecurity workforce wherein only 25% of workers are female. One item listed by Jakkal is research indicating that gender-diverse teams make better decisions than teams that are gender uniform. Jakkal also highlighted that there are 2.5 million job openings in the cybersecurity field and putting an emphasis on bringing in underrepresented talent could fill those openings.

According to the survey Microsoft commissioned to learn more about the gender gap's contributing factors, there are numerous reasons women may not be already filling those 2.5 million vacancies: "The survey indicated women are more likely than men (71 percent versus 61 percent) to think that cybersecurity is 'too complex' of a career. Men are more likely than women (21 percent versus 10 percent) to feel qualified to apply for a cybersecurity job posting. And more women than men (27 percent versus 21 percent) believe men are seen as a better fit for technology fields."

Jakkal's blog post discusses other survey results and how Microsoft's working to balance the scales, as well as includes a segment about her personal background and how it relates to the topic at hand, so it's worth a read if the topic is of interest to you.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

27 Comments
  • When it comes to security, the only thing I care about is putting the best people on the job. Not every job needs a perfect gender/race/religion representation. It's not a public facing news team, it's the backbone of technology's integrity. Security is too important to be playing games with representation for the sake of appearances. Call me whatever names you need to, but it's true.
  • that's not the plan here. the plan is to encourage more women to take up education in spaces traditionally dominated by men. obviously they're going to still pick the best people for the job, but why are there less women interested in this field? are there specific reasons for it? it has nothing to do with representation for the sake of it. you're angry for no reason.
  • Because most women just flat out aren't interested in it. As a general rule, we like jobs that let us form emotional connections or fulfill our natural need to nurture, hence why the overwhelming majority of teachers, HR workers, daycare workers, and nurses are all female. Cold statistics and deep tech just are not of interest for most women and many actually find it quite frustrating. I like tech but I know I am an odd duck. None of my female friends are even slightly interested in the tech sector and suggesting it to them is more likely to get a grimace more than anything else. Also, Scovious2 isn't wrong, having proper cybersecurity is more important than worrying about how many women opt to make it their career, especially when the simple answer is that most women choose other jobs that interest them more.
  • "we like jobs that let us form emotional connections or fulfill our natural need to nurture" Probably why there are so few of you in positions of power, amirite? It's just female nature. Seriously, what decade do you think this is?
  • Let's not be patronizing, please. The two are not the same. Being a cyber security specialist is not the same as running a company or a country. There are a fair amount of men who also have no interest in the field of cyber security, however, there are even fewer women and, in this decade, it isn't from a lack of opportunity, it is a lack of interest. STEM initiatives for girls were alive and well, even in the 90s. I know, I participated in those and I picked a career in tech because it was what I enjoyed. There have been extensive studies on personality types within the individual sexes and there are definitive clusters and trends found within each. The blanket statement that women are generally more nurturing and fulfilled in the roles I mentioned before, will hold true based on the available data. And just so you know, because you might not be aware of it, it's 2022 and human nature does not change.
  • While there is data to show that women tend to be more nurturing/emotional compared to men, don't confuse correlation with causation. Gender differences in fields/jobs are way more complicated than that.
  • No one said the difference aren't complex, but I am telling you point blank that most women are not interested in a full-on tech career and no amount of prompting is going to help that. *I* was interested in a tech career but I know well that I am in the minority amongst women and why. Because of the opportunities afforded to women over the past 30 years, there are more women in STEM jobs than ever but that doesn't mean that they are ever going to balance with their male counterparts. It's not from a lack of intelligence but the type of intelligence. Just as you find patterns in personality groups among the sexes, there are also patterns in intelligence types amongst the sexes. In layman's terms, intelligent women will notice certain things, that intelligent men do not, and vice versa. This is not a bad thing, but it isn't something you can force either. You will run into problems when you try to force things into being without accounting for each individual's personal preferences.
  • No one is talking about forcing anything. Our environment, aka societal norms and values influence gender norms/expectations just as much as biology. So my point is that the WHY behind gender differences in jobs can't simply be put under the category of female vs male preferences/intelligence/whatever you want to call it. There are a multitude of studies done that show how things like parents buying trucks for boys and dolls for girls influence how they develop.
  • Is that why, even after some countries have done almost everything possible, men stick to men dominated jobs and women/women? There will always be those that don't choose employment in gender norm jobs, but we are human. Men and women are not wired the same. We have differences for raising children, for furthering our species. Almost every species has sex differences in behavior, why are we any different. Lastly, where is the outcry for more male nurses? More female plumbers, firemen, brick layers? Or are we only concerned with high paying, male dominated positions?
  • I hate the term but this is the biggest mansplaining there could be in this thread.
  • Ton of mansplaining in here. So many fragile men. Can't handle not being the center of things for even a moment.
  • "Because most women just flat out aren't interested in it. As a general rule, we like jobs that ..."
    You mean YOU don't like jobs that .... not "we." You're elected by no one. You represent nor speak for any groups, you are not a designated leader or someone that other people consider an authority in this space. Don't try to make your argument more than it is by using the royal we. You are strictly speaking as your own personal opinion, nothing more. Your experience is merely anecdotal and the lowest form of evidence unless you have demographic data and, preferably, published data, to back your claim up.
  • Thank you so much for proving my point. Women hold a different perspective than men. Even women actually *in* tech. Saying that my argument is based on anecdotal evidence is fallacious. You do not want actual data, you want data that fits with your implication that we (collective, not royal) are somehow incapable of understanding the opportunities and need to be rescued by you. We are after all, only women that need our hands held so that we will choose the "right" path in tech. Excuse me while I throw up a bit. I've been preaching women in tech to my peers, (you know, other real, live, women) for over 20 years, and I'm just sharing what conclusions I've drawn from these conversations. It's not a huge mystery to me why there aren't more women in tech, particularly down some of the deeper rabbit holes... But if you wish to keep searching for these answers, feel free.
  • Men and women tend to have different strengths and weaknesses. It doesn't mean one is inherently better or worse, just different. People seem to lose sight of the fact that this isn't a bad thing. But it does mean you are going to see various careers that are weighted more heavily one way or another. And as long as there is no exclusion, that's ok. Don't force it, or nobody will be happy except those preoccupied with artificially making the world fit their preconceived notions.
  • I like your conversational tone here, Dradzk. It's tempered and approachable. Nice change of pace from the rest of the room. There is something... ironic (and saddeningly, darkly humorous) about the one person openly self-identifying as female in this comments section getting told by a zillion guys that her womanly experience isn't valid data in assessing the state of women in tech.
  • It's pretty common on this site to get berated by the staff when you offer a differing opinion than theirs. I expect as much from readers. After all , the site is for the patrons. However, here, you guys seem to chime in and more often than not, just to disagree with commenters. More so than other sites. At least your comments was a little more respectful than the others.
  • After 27 years in the tech industry working most of it for Amazon and Microsoft I can say that none of that is true, women get aggressively pushed by male managers towards program management and marketing, while men are routinely elevated on the technical side in the vast majority of teams. I would strongly consider the fact that you do not speak for all or even most women, only yourself. I've spent a lot of my career mentoring including repeatedly helping women find teams and managers who will advance their *technical* ambitions rather than pushing them to be a PM. In all my years I have worked with exactly one security team where the management took non-males seriously and attempted mentor and grow their careers. Most security teams and orgs I've interacted with are actively hostile towards female and often LGBTQ employees. I have enjoyed helping women I know get past these artificial glass ceilings when I can but feel terrible about how many mediocre mostly white dudes hold down jobs for which I can think of a dozen women who'd do better work. Security is a mess, everyone agrees with that. It's also run almost entirely by males, mostly white. It would improve dramatically if it truly was meritocratic rather than a boys club. Currently it's not.
  • I certainly won't call you names, because I can see this is already hurting your feelings.
  • You're really not understanding the point if you think it's for the "sake of appearance."
  • So, other than for appearance's sake, why does anyone care? Not seeing electricians trying to higher or encourage women. Not seeing any outcry for more women in low paying, physically demanding, and under appreciated jobs. Where are the calls for more men in female dominated jobs? Guess no one really cares about equality, just getting more people into jobs that look good.
  • Because the best people are not doing the job. And I'd prefer security to have the best of the best, not just dudes many of whom are overwhelmingly mediocre at it, as demonstrated by the state of network security.
  • Your opening claim is just as unfounded as a lot of the babble going on in this comments section. You can't fight ineptitude with more ineptitude, David.
  • Nah, I'm respected in the field and have a lengthy career building software used literally by billions. Worked on many teams and seen over and over how women are treated. Have worked alongside or embedded with security teams repeatedly and watched the same white dudes do the same security theater over and over. It's clear they aren't hiring the best and the brightest, they are hiring their buddies. There is little meritocracy in tech to begin with, and the security space it's worse than the norm. I'll take my experience over internet white dude any day of the week.
  • Yawn. When women want a job in X, they’ll do it. We don’t need corporations telling society how it should be. Society defines what corporations can be through elected governance. These elite think they own the world at times.
  • And what if more women have not interest in cybersecurity as a career field? See, this is the kind of virtue-signaling and myopia that plagues so much of modern society. "We need more of this, we need more of that!" Who's the flipping "we"? Where are the real statistics that show there are hordes of women clamoring to get into cybersecurity but can't? Regardless of how they may feel about the challenges of being in the career field, do they WANT to do it?
  • Hey, that's crazy talk there, wanting data showing the clamoring horde of females banging on the cybersecurity doors! All we need are numbers showing that the number of females vs males in an industry don't match the population split to show the disparity and unfairness. We must fix this injustice!
    It is interesting to me that no one seems to have the numbers, or at least discuss the numbers in blue collar fields. It's always white-collar fields. I don't think that's random. Methinks an agenda is afoot.
  • Have you seen any push for women to work at Hooters? nope.........