RMIT University, in partnership with the Australian Women in Security Network, is undertaking a new study to explore solutions to overcome pressing skills and diversity challenges in the Australian security sector, first by exploring important gender dimensions.
Australia needs 7,000 more practitioners in the cybersecurity sector alone by 2024, according to AustCyber.
Given the growing awareness of the benefits of diversity for organizational performance, decision-making and responsiveness to real-world challenges, the lack of skills and diversity in the cybersecurity industry also means that the sector is not not work as optimally as it could.
“Currently available estimates suggest that women make up somewhere between 11% and 24% of the cybersecurity workforce, there is no solid measure of the gender composition of the security industry. Australia, or a clear picture of the types of jobs women undertake and the skills they possess,” says RMIT Center for Cyber Security Research & Innovation Director, Professor Matt Warren.
“This study will aim to give a more robust and definitive estimate of gender diversity within the security workforce,” he said.
AWSN Executive Director Jacqui Loustau says the study will allow AWSN to assess the impact of its initiatives.
“Having a baseline and a clearer picture of the actual number of women working in the security industry will allow us to measure the success of initiatives to attract, support and retain women in the industry,” she says.
AWSN’s involvement in the study was facilitated by sponsorship support from the Australian Directorate of Signals, one of Australia’s principal national security agencies.
RMIT economist and member of the research team, Dr Leonora Risse says the research project would also provide insight into the barriers and enablers to women’s careers in the security sector.
“The knowledge generated by the research project will be invaluable in broadening the sector’s talent pool and equipping it for the growing challenges and demands it will face in the future,” she says.
“While existing research suggests general ways to expand the sector’s talent pool, little attention is paid to gender inequalities and the factors that explain the low representation of women in the sector.
“The project provides information to better understand the factors that can either support or deter women from pursuing and thriving in a career in the security sector.”
Professor Warren encouraged all security personnel, including physical security, personnel security, information security, cybersecurity and security governance, and of all genders, to respond to the ‘investigation.