As we kick off the beginning of a New Year, I’d like to share some disheartening news that I’m sure you won’t have missed: Tech layoffs and the potential negative effects on women. Unfortunately, this is an issue that will have grave impacts on our industry if not adequately addressed.
In 2023, there will be widespread layoffs. We’re already seeing them, especially in the tech industry. As of January 25th, a staggering 57,601 people have been laid off from 185 tech companies. This is bad news for everyone, but it may turn out to be especially hard on women in cybersecurity.
#1. When layoffs occur in tech, women are disproportionately impacted. Women often experience more job insecurity than their male counterparts as they’re often the first to be laid off during a restructuring process, and it’s usually men who are rehired first. Sadly, employers frequently (and incorrectly) view women as more costly and difficult to train than men. I wrote about this in Chapter 2 of my book IN Security (shameless plug – it’s available on Amazon). This means that women in cybersecurity, who already make up a small percentage of the industry, could be further pushed out due to layoffs.
#2. The skills gap in cybersecurity is already widening and layoffs will make it worse. As we meet the challenges of 2023 head-on, there’s an issue that many of us in cybersecurity are worrying about: the widening skills gap. With layoffs looming in an unpredictable tech landscape, this gap will only become greater and more difficult to close. This can be especially disconcerting for women, who already make up a smaller proportion of those working in cybersecurity. The loss of jobs and career opportunities due to layoffs could be devastating for the advancement of women in this important technical sector. That’s why it’s crucial that we work together towards finding sustainable solutions, like The Source, for this problem before it’s too late.
#3. Women in cybersecurity are more likely to be working in lower-paid positions, making them especially vulnerable to job cuts and pay decreases. This is a stark reminder of how persistent the gender gap still is, both in terms of lower salaries and fewer opportunities for advancement. By recognizing this issue and taking active steps to provide equal opportunities for women in tech, we can help close the gender gap and ensure that everyone in our industry has equal access to economic security and stability.
#4. Fewer women in the field means fewer role models and mentors for aspiring female cybersecurity professionals. When female workforce is bearing the brunt of this issue. These job losses have far reaching effects, particularly in how it will hamper young women seeking to enter the field. With fewer role models and mentors within their workplaces or even academia, they lack proper guidance or adequate representation in navigating these patriarchal spheres which can be extremely intimidating. The absence of these figures only further serves as an impediment to further female inclusion and diversity initiatives, making it all the more essential that all stakeholders come together in rectifying these issues.
#5. Layoffs can have a disastrous effect on morale. Women in cybersecurity regularly endure sexism and gender bias – so when faced with being laid off, it could lead them to further doubt their skillset or possibly feel unwelcome within the industry even more. This could lead female employees to feel less inclined to participate in meetings or take on more complex projects as they believe their odds of succeeding are lower than those of male coworkers. Consequently, fewer women may be encouraged to become part of the cybersecurity world which serves only to continue fueling this vicious cycle of gender disparity.
#6. Layoffs can lead to unequal opportunities and larger pay disparities over time. When resources are limited, it often becomes more difficult for companies to allocate enough funds for equal pay among the employees. This can lead to larger disparities between men and women’s wages over time, creating an unbalanced playing field and perpetuating gender inequality in the industry.
#7. Diversity and inclusion are not usually prioritised when laying off employees. When economies worsen, companies tend to be fixated on short-term profits and immediate results, instead of striving to create an equitable workplace environment that will foster meaningful revenue growth and long term innovation.
Bloomberg highlighted the issue in their recent article. In it, they reported on the number of the big tech companies that had committed themselves to hiring a more diverse workforce and have now begun slashing their DEI departments–departments meant for actualizing those very same objectives! According to research by Textio, too, there was a 19% drop in listings for DEI positions last year – much higher than the overall drop in tech job postings.
Unfortunately, when resources are not allocated to diversity and inclusion initiatives, it sends a striking message that women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups do not have the same worth as their counterparts. It conveys that efforts toward creating equitable working environments are of little importance.
8. The lack of gender diversity in cybersecurity makes it harder for companies to innovate and solve problems creatively. This limits companies from using a wide range of perspectives to solve problems and innovate, as proponents of a more diverse workforce have been adamant in noting. By not having equal representation of women in the field, innovative solutions for any given problem could be hard to come by as ideas and opinions shared may be one-sided or limited due to lack of consideration for other perspectives. Therefore, striving to increase gender diversity when it comes to cybersecurity should be made a priority across all industries if businesses truly want their workplace environment to foster innovation and creativity at its highest potential, and reap the financial rewards in terms of their investment.
To end, the industry is already facing an uphill battle in promoting gender parity, and layoffs can make this task even more difficult. If layoffs in cybersecurity are unavoidable, then it is essential that companies consider how their decisions will affect diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It’s essential for employers to safeguard their female employees by formulating practices, systems and regulations that guarantee equitable restructuring proceedings.
Only when companies prioritize DEI and cultivate a workplace that is respectful and inclusive of all employees, regardless of their identity or tenure will we be able to create an industry where everyone feels safe, respected, and valued AND solutions that will keep our planet safer from bad actors.
Now I want to hear from you…
Tell me what I’ve missed. What other problems and issues can you forsee? Please add to the conversation so more people can be helped.