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Women-only cyber security course aims to tackle startling inequality
British cyber security experts have created the ‘Academy of Cyber Security’ with the intention of re-training women.
It’s 2001. Lorna Armitage, a fledgling IT professional, is about to sit her exam in cyber security. Upon entering the exam hall, she finds herself the only woman in attendance, surrounded by over 200 men.
Fast forward to 2019 and Lorna, now a cyber security expert working on behalf of the UK government, enters London Olympia to attend the ‘InfoSec UK’ conference. It’s a packed event, and as she navigates her way through the crowds, she has a moment of realisation.
Cyber security still has a problem… a major problem. At this event, 90% of delegates were male. The facts are, only 10% of UK cyber professionals are female, and the severity of this ratio increases when senior positions or deeply technical roles are isolated.
Following this moment of realisation, Lorna and several colleagues wanted to take a radical approach to solving this imbalance, which has persisted since the turn of the Millennium.
In September 2019, the Academy of Cyber Security was incorporated and the founding team of nine agreed that a women-only re-training course would be a priority.
We were able to speak with Lorna and she commented;
“Alongside the clear problem of gender inequality, cyber in general has an urgent skills shortage. In the UK, we’re missing around 100,000 professionals and as a result, cyber crime is costing the British economy £27 Billion per year. It’s a problem of national security.”
“We’re seeing amazing initiatives at the early stage of education, but a clear lack of initiatives which target the current UK workforce and underrepresented demographics, such as women. Women who might be facing redundancy, returning to work, or those who simply want to change their career. These demographics can significantly contribute to the cyber security skills shortage.”
Interest in the Academy of Cyber Security has been exceptionally high, but even with dedicated marketing campaigns aimed at women, 80% of applicants have still been male.
“We’ve seen a lot of push back against women-only initiatives. We see current industry leaders calling them ‘exclusionary’ and saying, “we just need more people”. If we don’t do anything, then more people just equals more men. Something must be done”
“It’s paramount we normalise the cyber career path for women. We need more role models, and if we can unlock this demographic, then it will go a long way to solving the UKs cyber skills gap”.
The Academy of Cyber Security is 16-week re-training programme with the inaugural women-only cohort kicking off in Spring 2020. Applications are now open for aspiring women.
To find out more about the Academy of Cyber Security’s women-only initiatives, or to apply, you can go to: www.cybertraining.ac/women-in-cyber-security/