The Science of Hiring and Retaining Female Cybersecurity Engineers

Conference:  BlackHat USA 2018



The presentation discusses the challenges of recruiting and retaining women in cybersecurity and offers insights from recent studies and a scorecard methodology to identify and address factors that negatively affect women in the field.
  • Studies show that women are underrepresented in cybersecurity and technical fields
  • Recruiting from universities is easier than recruiting experienced women in the field
  • Professional associations can be a good source for recruiting and networking
  • A scorecard methodology can help identify and address factors that negatively affect women in the field
  • The presentation focuses on retaining women who are already in the field and growing them into technical leaders
The speaker discusses a study from South Africa that created a video game to test which features of video games are appealing to women, but notes that the conclusions only apply to the specific group of 12 to 16 year old girls tested. The presentation emphasizes the need to use data and science to address the issue of gender imbalance in cybersecurity, while acknowledging that human judgment is also important in hiring and retaining individuals.


The wisdom on why it is difficult to recruit and retain women in the industry has changed over the past decade; the speaker will share the latest information about the most successful approaches and results from a recent working group on acquiring and retaining female technology leaders. The speaker will also discuss how the methodologies used in studies affect the trustworthiness of the conclusions and how to get insight into your workforce using readily-available tools. Participants will leave with a core understanding of why the gender gap in cyber security exists, how to collect information from systems and people in your organization to gain valuable insights, and how a scorecard methodology created by diverse cyber security engineers working in the industry can help identify areas for improvement.