Written By Rob Rashotte

As the cybersecurity skills gap persists, it is imperative to create access to training, career pathways, and opportunities in order to encourage more people to pursue careers in cybersecurity. By providing access to and possibilities for cyber jobs for everyone, including women, students, veterans, and others, Fortinet is working to encourage greater representation within cybersecurity. Fortinet offers training, certifications, and career tools in an effort to narrow the cyber skills gap.

This mission aligns nicely with one of our Education Outreach partners, Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS). I recently spoke with Lynn Dohm, the executive director of WiCyS, about the organization’s partnership with Fortinet and why now is a great time for women to enter the cybersecurity field.

Can you share more about what WiCyS does to help women already in or looking to kickstart a career in cybersecurity?

WiCyS is a global community of women, allies and advocates whose mission is to bring talented women together to celebrate and foster their passion and drive for cybersecurity. We unite local communities of current and aspiring women professionals in cybersecurity worldwide to collaborate, mentor, share knowledge, and network. This happens as we create opportunities through conferences, career fairs, professional development programs, and more. In these ways, we are working to fill the cybersecurity workforce gap and improve the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in cybersecurity.  

How are WiCyS and Fortinet working together to help close the skills gap by empowering women?

We’re doing this in a few ways. The first is free training for our members. We established a partnership with Fortinet in 2020. Our more than 5,000 members can take advantage of the free technical and awareness training and certifications offered by Fortinet. We have witnessed incredible momentum and enthusiasm from WiCyS members who wish to attend Fortinet’s training; we’ve seen more than 260 course registrations for the free training and certification to date, and this figure continues to rise.

The second is the new NSE 4 Certification Summer Camp that we kicked off in July. This one-of-a-kind WiCyS global cohort program provided 100 WiCyS members with the structure, access to professional trainers, and online support to complete the Fortinet Network Security Expert (NSE) 4 Certification. We were encouraged by the enthusiasm of our members for this summer camp, which had more than 300 applications. Providing access to Fortinet’s award-winning training program and resources helps fulfill the need of more cybersecurity training for women around the world.

Fortinet has also become a Tier 1 WiCyS sponsor, and a VIP sponsor of our 2023 annual conference. This partnership provides both organizations with more opportunities to collaborate on ways to improve diversity in the cyber industry and help close the cybersecurity skills gap.

Why should women consider a career in cybersecurity?

Given that this industry is hiring as quickly as it can, now is the ideal time to enter the cybersecurity field. ISC(2)’s research found that there’s still a worldwide shortfall of 2.7 million positions. According to CyberSeek, right now there are 714,548 unfilled positions in the US.

Another benefit is that the tech industry can frequently offer remote work options and more flexibility than other industries. That’s a benefit in general, but it’s crucial for women who have children to take care of. Twice as many women as men reported losing their jobs because of childcare issues during the pandemic.

However, the tech sector was not as hard-hit as other sectors, and that is partly due to the tech industry’s ability to pivot quickly to remote work and flexible work arrangements – which speaks to greater job security for women.

These days, cybersecurity is one of the IT industries with the greatest growth rates and one of the most in-demand skill sets. Cybersecurity is a necessity across every industry, including healthcare, government, transportation, banking, and retail. This offers women the opportunity to work within many industries and diversify their resumes.

What are the benefits for organizations and hiring managers in hiring women in cybersecurity? 

The cybersecurity industry needs the soft skills and diverse perspective and experiences that women possess. These attributes can help companies fight the diverse background of cybercriminals. What’s more, a study from Cloverpop found that teams with both the female and male perspectives make better business decisions 73% of the time. What fosters innovation more than using novel perspectives, ideas, and experiences to solve current issues? Cybersecurity relies on this kind of innovation because cybercrime tactics are always evolving.

Analysis of resumes indicates that women bring a larger range of skills to cybersecurity positions. For example, in all four quadrants— personal qualities, leadership, analytical ability, and interpersonal skills —women claim 52.5% more soft skills than men do. Research shows that these soft skills are essential differentiators for cybersecurity leaders. Female job seekers highlight analytical skills 150% more frequently and leadership skills 46% more frequently.

In addition, organizations have big cybersecurity staffing gaps to fill – there are about 377,000 open positions in the United States alone – and there are women eager to fill them.

Fortinet TAA and Training Institute Support Women

By partnering with WiCyS and other organizations focused on supporting women, Fortinet is working toward closing the cybersecurity skills gap. Women play a critical role in helping fill crucial cyber roles and Fortinet is providing them training and career opportunities through its Training Advancement Agenda (TAA) and Training Institute programs.

Learn more about the Fortinet free cybersecurity training initiative, the Fortinet NSE Training programSecurity Academy program, and Veterans program

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Written By Rob Rashotte. (2022, September 6). Calling Women to Join the Cybersecurity Field. CSO