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Security industry riddled with gender diversity issues & burnout

31 Oct 2019
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Security professionals across Australia, India, the United States, the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands are a stark reminder that there is a major gender and racial disparity in the cybersecurity industry, with more than 91% of respondents identifying as male.

Of the 479 security professionals surveyed, most received salaries of between $75,000-$100,000. However, gender and racial gaps were also uncovered.

According to the survey, 65% of respondents identified as Caucasian, in addition to 13% who identified as Asian descent, 9% identified as Latino/Hispanic, and less than 3% identified as African American.

“The lack of diversity in this survey is a microcosm of the wider problem plaguing the cybersecurity industry,” says Exabeam VP of product marketing Trevor Daughney.

“When we consider the continuous threats and external adversaries that cyber professionals face, we understand that fighting them often requires a multidisciplinary approach. Building a diverse team of people creates a more holistic view of the problem and delivers a range of valuable problem-solving skills. In that way, diversity truly improves the overall outcomes of the team.”

Despite the gender and racial disparities, more than half (53%) report being satisfied with their salary, and 58% say a challenging work environment is the most rewarding aspect of their role, while the lack of job advancement opportunities is the least rewarding.

However, burnout and fatigue threaten security professionals’ wellbeing. According to the survey, 62% of respondents say their jobs are stressful or very stressful, and 44% believe they don’t have a good work-life balance.

“One obvious strength of the security space is the plentiful opportunities to take risks and innovate,” Daughney continues.

“However, if employees are stressed, don’t feel supported by executive leadership, or don’t enjoy balance in their lives, it’s difficult to achieve their full potential. Therefore, companies must focus on inclusion and building productive environments where teams can deliver exceptional work.”

The survey also asked respondents what tools they regularly use. 

SIEM and firewalls were cited as the most common technologies used, with WHOIS, NSLOOKUP, email security, intrusion prevention systems and +NGF, rounding out the list of tools. In addition, 16% of respondents are using automation.

In contrast, 41% of respondents admit to having no plans to use automation, despite 60% disagreeing that automation was a threat to their jobs and 80% saying that automation makes their jobs easier and improves security.

Statistics are taken from Exabeam’s 2019 Cybersecurity Professionals Salary, Skills and Stress Survey.