By Katie Bo Williams - 09/28/15 04:41 PM EDT
Just one in ten cybersecurity professionals are women, a percentage that appears to be shrinking amidst a growing workforce shortage in the field, a new survey shows.
ICS2, which certifies cybersecurity professionals, said Monday that only 10 percent of 14,000 IT security professionals in developed countries were women — down from 11 percent last year.
“The information security field is expected to see a deficit of 1.5 million professionals by 2020 if we don’t take proactive measures to close the gap,” says ISC2 CEO David Shearer. “Knowing this, it is rather frustrating to realize that we do not have more women working in the industry.”
Shearer echoes concerns raised by both federal and private companies that are struggling to hire qualified cybersecurity workers.
In 2014, government and private sector employers reported that less than 25 percent of applicants for cybersecurity positions were qualified, according to a recent trade group survey.
Monday’s survey also found pay discrepancies between the two genders. Looking at the most female-dominated specialty of information security, researchers found that women still made 4.7 percent less than men — about $116,000 compared to $122,000.
The survey results stand out against the backdrop of a large gender gap in the technology industry in general. According to the American Association of University Women, just 26 percent of computing jobs in the U.S. were held by women in 2013, down from 35 percent in 1990.
Large tech firms like Google, Facebook and Twitter have come under scrutiny for the paltry female percentage of the their tech workforces.
Experts point to unconscious bias during the hiring process, often noting a 2012 study that found researchers hiring for a lab position were more likely to hire a male applicant over a female with an identical resume, as well as award the male candidate a higher starting salary.
Earlier this month, a former Microsoft employee filed a gender bias lawsuit against the company, alleging lower salaries and fewer opportunities for women at the tech giant. The plaintiff, Katie Moussouris, claims the company unfairly promoted men over more qualified women and awarded better performance reviews to male employees.
Microsoft rebutted Moussouris’ claims, saying that they were unable to substantiate her allegations.
“We’re committed to a diverse workforce, and to a workplace where all employees have the chance to succeed,” the company said in a statement.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made headlines earlier in the year when he suggested that women shouldn’t ask for a raise but “[have] faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along.”