Encouraging Women to Choose Cyber-Security Careers

A new partnership between Cybrary, a free online cyber-security training platform, and Women in Technology (WIT), should enable more women to explore cyber-security training and jobs. From CompTIA Security+ to Python for Security Professionals, the platform offers more than 12 training courses in cyber-security and related certifications, as well as in network and systems administration.

The massive open online course (MOOC) is free and features video that contains both conceptual and procedural instruction from top teachers in the field. For example, Georgia Weidman, who teaches advanced penetration training, is a renowned security professional with a master’s of science degree in computer science from James Madison University.

“Our mission is to put these tools into the hands of as many learners who can benefit from them as possible,” says Ryan Cory, co-founder of Cybrary. “Because women are a minority in technology—and even more so in cyber-security—this is a terrific fit.”

The partnership with WIT is recent, but it provides unlimited licensing to Cybrary’s enterprise training platform for several of WIT’s programs, including its Workforce Development Committee and its Special Interest Group. In addition, WIT members should be able to access Cybrary’s growing catalog of cyber-security content and track their progress.

Recently, Cybrary was also used to help high school girls who are  training through WIT to prepare for the Cyber-Patriot High School Competition, which is sponsored by the Air Force Association. In this competition, teams are challenged to find cyber-security vulnerabilities in virtual images that represent operating systems.

“It’s a pretty recognizable competition,” Corey says. “We had teams from Elizabeth Seton High School here using Cybrary to prepare for the competition.”

He adds that the partnership with WIT has grown, but it’s still in its nascent stages.

Advancing From the Classroom to the Boardroom

WIT’s goal is to help women advance from the classroom to the boardroom through networking, training, mentoring and technology education. Part of the driving force behind the partnership with Cybrary is the need to fill the gap when it comes to cyber-security jobs, in which women have low employment levels.

“The reason we are looking for partnerships like this is because the cyber-security skills gap both here in the United States and globally is massive,” Corey says. “There’s something like 40,000 cyber-security jobs open in the Northern Virginia and D.C. area alone—jobs that pay $65,000 to $70,000 a year. That’s insane.”

He points out that one of the issues preventing people from entering the cyber-security field is the education expense, which is where Cybrary’s MOOC platform comes in by offering free training. It is estimated that across the country, 210,000 jobs are available in cyber-security, he adds.

The National Initiative for Cyber-Security Careers and Studies (NICCS) repots that only 24.9 percent of the entire IT workforce consists of women, and that many fewer of these women were minorities. While it is estimated that only 7 to 8 percent of people involved in cyber-security are women, Corey says that he is already seeing a difference on the Cybrary platform: It garners about 1,000 new members a day, and women make up approximately 15 percent of its user base.

Founded earlier this year in Greenbelt, Md., Cybrary has offerings for individuals who either want to get started in the field or are interested in advancement.

“We have courses that can help people move to that next level or refine a particular management or information assurance skill set, all the way down to entry-level training,” Corey reports. “There is training for everyone on each step of the ladder.”