Even as I write this blog, the higher secondary board exams have started in schools across India and I send up a silent prayer for the thousands of nervous youngsters who are at the juxtaposition of a crucial time in their lives – the time when they have to take serious decisions regarding college education and career. The Board results would no doubt play a major role in this decision making.
With International Women’s Day around the corner, I am naturally thinking about women, their emancipation and their choices in life. I imagine them thinking independently, making decisions based on their capabilities and preferences, and supplying the necessary valuable skills that our country so needs.
But often that isn’t the case for teens as they are indecisive, and their knowledge of professions isn’t vast. They often miss out on plum prospects because, well, they were not aware of them or feel they may later hamper their family lives! I am going to do my bit for all the young ladies finishing school education this year- I am going to talk to you about choosing cybersecurity as a career option.
So girls, if you possess good reasoning power, enjoy ferreting out the source of the problem, are a natural at coding or are a serious video gamer, think cybersecurity.
Why Cybersecurity you ask? Let me present the facts.
- Skills shortage
The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) recently estimated that India alone will need 1 million cybersecurity professionals by 2020 to meet the demands of its rapidly growing economy.
Demand for security professionals in India will increase in all sectors due to the unprecedented rise in the number of cyber-attacks, added NASSCOM. Despite having the largest information technology talent pool in the world, India is struggling to produce an adequate number of professionals to close the cybersecurity skill gap.
- The age of diversification
There is gender gap in the cybersecurity sector and companies globally are trying to correct this, not just to promote diversity but to add value to their work culture with the addition of the visions, perspectives and skills that women bring in.
- Flexible work arrangements
With more women joining the profession, employers are doing their best to make the work atmosphere favourable for them. Not only are they offering flexi-timings but also work-from-home opportunities when it’s possible. I have heard of companies that allow mothers with infants to work from home for extended periods! Isn’t that a blessing?
According to a 2013 McKinsey Report, 34 percent of India’s IT workforce is female. However, most of them exit the employment pipeline at the junior to mid-level.
This only goes to reveal that many women scientists and engineers drop out, perhaps because they find it difficult manage their work-home balance. With flexi-timings and work-from-home options, this figure will definitely decrease!
- Good support system
Great news for all women exploring cybersecurity as a career! There are organizations like Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) that aims at offering a common platform to women cybersecurity professionals from academia, research and industry where they can network, mentor and be mentored, share information and experience; which means, you will never feel alone as help is just a click away!
- You don’t need to be an engineer
Employers are trying to plug the cybersecurity skills gap with alternative solutions. It has been found that video gamers too have the right types of skills along with a different approach to threat hunting. So, if you are an avid gamer, go for it!
- Steady jobs with good pay
This last bit is the clincher really! In this super-competitive market, isn’t it a dream to have a high salary job that rarely gets monotonous?
McAfee lists some cool cybersecurity job prospects for you, check them out!
Job 1 – Forensics Expert
They analyze and determine who the mastermind behind a security breach might be. It can be almost as complex and precise as understanding human DNA.
Job 2 – Cryptographer/ Cryptanalysts
Cryptographers develop algorithms, ciphers and security systems to encrypt and hide sensitive information from cyber hackers.
Job 3 – Threat Hunter
Threat hunters use manual or machine-assisted skills to detect and prepare for security incidents
Job 4 – Security Architect
They design systems to help develop and test the security vulnerabilities of a business
Parenting tips to rear future cyber security experts:
You can help your child make faster career decisions if you instill security habits in them from an early age. It goes without saying that you need to model cybersecurity habits so that they can learn by imitating you. Discuss cybersecurity as a profession and explore the prospects together online. Take your child to meet friends in the field so that they can get their doubts cleared. Have dinner time conversations on how attacks are becoming more advanced and the best means to fight them. If your daughter enjoys playing online games, use that as a conversation starter to talk about how security firms are looking at video gamers—even those without a background in cybersecurity.
The best gift you can give the women in your family on International Women’s Day is a sense of independence, security and equality.
Happy International Women’s Day!!