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A woman in IT is like a dog who speaks: Rare. A woman in IT security?

Like a dog who speaks Estonian?

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Women are shunning cyber security even more than they shun the rest of IT, according to a survey.

Of the 2,500 people who took cyber security training at QA in 2012, just 6.2 per cent were women.

The number of women choosing to take up security courses also declined overall by 19.5 per cent between 2011 and 2012, while the number of men on the courses more than doubled, growing by 118 per cent in the same period. The training firm blames the shortfall on sexism as well as rubbish lessons in school focused on teaching basic office skills rather than hard computer science.

Women are generally rare in the IT and telecoms industry, making up just 18 percent of the total workforce, but it appears they're even rarer in security.

Bill Walker, QA technical director and cybersecurity wonk, said:

“It’s unclear why women are so under-represented in such an important and fast-growing part of Britain’s IT economy. Various theories abound – from gender stereotyping to teaching the wrong kind of technology.

“Despite the huge rise in men taking cyber security training over the past year, Britain is still falling short of the number of people needed ... It needs to be easier, more affordable and more appealing to women, in order for them to enter this vital segment of the IT economy.”

A National Audit Office report in February claimed that cyber crime costs the UK between £18 billion and £27 billion a year. It also suggested there is a severe lack of decent workers who can step it to help stop online attacks and warned this skills gap was so severe it could take 20 years to close.

In 2011, the National Cyber Security Programme pledged to splurge £650m over five years to shore up the UK's cyber-security defences after suggesting that cyber attacks posed a threat to Britain as severe as terrorism.

The QA figures were released following a report from the Women's Business Council which insisted that "women should not just try to fit into the economy, they should be shaping it".

The report found that 2.4 million women who are currently out of work would like to find a job, while a further 1.3 million women want more hours at their current role. It also claimed that getting more women involved in work could increase economic growth by 0.5 per cent a year, resulting in a GDP boost of about 10 per cent by 2030. ®

Bootnote

Just in case anyone's in a rage about our dog-bites-woman headline, the reference is to the classic Blackadder episode "Ink and Incapability", in which the following exchange takes place:

Edmund: Sir, the Prince is young and foolish, and has a peanut for a brain. Give me just a few minutes and I will deliver both the book and his patronage.

Dr Johnson: Oh, will you, sir... I very much doubt it. A servant who is an influence for the good is like a dog who speaks: very rare.

E: I think I can change his mind.

J: Hmpf! Well, I doubt it, sir. A man who can change a prince's mind is like a dog who speaks *Norwegian*: even rarer! I shall be at Mrs. Miggins' Literary Salon in twenty minutes. Bring the book there. (exits)

- Ed.

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