3 Reasons We Want to Introduce Girls to Cybersecurity

There’s a popular adage among cyber security experts that says that there are two kinds of companies: Those that have been hacked and those that don’t know they’ve been hacked.

From high-profile data breeches at big companies like Sony Pictures, Apple, and Target, to the 44 percent of small businesses that have reported cyberattacks, the vulnerability of the growing amount of digital data has become a national crisis. Just last month the president called for cybersecurity legislation in the 2015 State of the Union address.

In order to combat this growing crisis, companies are investing in new security systems and recruiting qualified teams to create and monitor these systems. Yet while the cybersecurity profession is booming, only 14 percent of young women have reported any interest in the careers compared with 35 percent of young men. It’s not surprising to see the same kind of gender gap that shows up in most IT jobs, but AAUW knows there are a number of ways to break down these barriers and expand the pipeline for all cybersecurity experts. Here’s why we plan to do just that:

1. The jobs are lucrative.

Woman holding dollar bills

Cybersecurity salaries average $116,000 a year, approximately $55 per hour, reports Semper Secure. That’s nearly three times the national median income for full-time wage and salary workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2. You get to fight the bad guys and protect not only critical information but also people.

woman in a superhero cape at a computer

Every piece of data that is breached is tied back to a person, be it family photos, salary information, health records, or credit card numbers. When hackers triumph, people suffer, and governments and companies can’t keep up the fight against cyber criminals without new talent. Cybersecurity professionals get to work in a dynamic field where hackers are always trying new tactics, and new technology can change the sector in a flash. It’s challenging, exciting, and important work.

3. There’s great job security.

A woman cheering at a computer

The demand for cybersecurity experts is growing more than three times faster than the demand for other IT jobs, and there doesn’t seem to be enough applicants in the pipeline. So along with getting to fight the bad guys, job security is on your side.

At AAUW Tech Trek camps, girls spend a week exploring science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through field trips, experiments, classes, and encounters with women role models. We’re proud to announce a $100,000 grant from Symantec Corporation that will help us pilot a cybersecurity core class as part of Tech Trek’s curriculum. With the support from Symantec, we will develop and test the course at four camps this summer. Stay tuned for more announcements on the Tech Trek page!