Closing the Gender Gap in Cybersecurity Would Boost U.S. Economy by $30 Billion, According to New Data

New report from cybersecurity firm Tessian reveals economic impact and perceptions around the cybersecurity gender gap; 82% of women in security believe industry has a gender bias problem


March 11, 2020 — LONDON, UK — If the number of women working in cybersecurity in the United States equalled that of men, the economic footprint of the U.S. cybersecurity industry would increase by $30.4 billion, according to a new report from Tessian, the human layer security company. Furthermore, an additional $12.7 billion would be added to the economy if women’s salaries were equal to their male colleagues, a pay gap that currently represents a 17% difference.

Tessian partnered with the Center for Economics and Business Research to analyze and quantify the gender gap in cybersecurity in both the United States and United Kingdom. The firm also surveyed 200 female cybersecurity professionals in both the U.S. and UK and interviewed more than one dozen practitioners from some of the world’s largest organizations about their personal experiences. The report highlights the potential impact of expanding gender diversity in cybersecurity as well as current perceptions around gender bias in the field.

Key findings include:

  • 82% of female cybersecurity professionals in the U.S. believe that cybersecurity has a gender bias problem, compared with 49% of those in the UK.
  • The gender pay gap in the U.S. cybersecurity industry is 17%. In the UK, it’s 19%.
  • U.S. respondents are three times as likely (68%) to believe that a more gender-balanced workforce would be an effective tool for recruiting more women to work in cybersecurity than UK respondents (22%).
  • 45% of U.S. respondents say equal pay would help with recruitment, compared with just 10% of UK respondents.
  • 61% of U.S. respondents cite lack of qualified talent as a reason why 4 million cybersecurity jobs will be left unfulfilled by 2021, while only 33% of UK women cite lack of qualified talent as a barrier.

The report sought to identify the factors that are discouraging women from joining the cybersecurity industry and found that:

  • 42% of respondents (U.S. and UK) believe a cybersecurity skills gap exists because the industry isn’t considered ‘cool’ or ‘exciting’. This opinion was most commonly shared by millennials (46%) compared with 22% of 45-54-year-olds.
  • A lack of awareness or knowledge of the industry was the top challenge female professionals faced at the start of their career, with 43% citing this as a barrier.
  • 43% of women said that a lack of clear career development paths was another challenge at the start of their cybersecurity career, while nearly a quarter (23%) cited a lack of role models.
  • Just 53% say their organization is doing enough to recruit women into security roles.


Perspectives from women in the industry

Sabrina Castiglione, senior executive at Tessian said, “For organizations to successfully recruit more women into security roles, they need to understand what’s discouraging them from signing up beyond just gender bias. We need to make more visible. We need to tell their stories and raise awareness of their roles and experiences. And once through the door, managers need to clearly show women the opportunities available to them to progress and develop their careers.”

Shamla Naidoo, former CISO at IBM, said, “To many people, cybersecurity equates to – and is limited to – someone in a hoodie bent over a keyboard in a dark room. That’s not the case at all. If we don’t expand beyond that, we’ll lose out on even more people in the industry.”

Castiglione added, “The future of cybersecurity needs diversity. 2019 was the worst year on record for data breaches, with 61% of organisations reporting a breach as a result of human error or malicious activity. With data breaches rising year on year, and with cyber threats continually evolving, we need different ideas and approaches to solving security problems if we are going to keep people and data safe.”

Read the full report and discover the stories of cybersecurity professionals at some of the world’s biggest organisations here: Opportunity in Cybersecurity 2020. 


About the research

The data in the report was produced in partnership with the economics consultancy Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR). Tessian also conducted a survey with Opinion Matters, surveying 200 women cybersecurity professionals – 100 in the UK and 100 in the US. Survey respondents held various job titles including CISO, network engineer, security architect, incident response, pen tester, security analyst, software developer, data scientist, risk & compliance, and security operations.


About Tessian 

Tessian is building the world’s first Human Layer Security platform to automatically secure all human-digital interactions within the enterprise. Today, our products use stateful machine learning to protect people using email. We prevent threats like spear phishing, accidental data loss due to misdirected emails, data exfiltration and other non-compliant email activity. We’ve raised $60m from legendary security investors like Sequoia and Accel and have over 180 employees located in San Francisco and London.