The federal government must immediately work to reverse the under-representation of women and racial and ethnic minorities in its cyber workforce by increasing funding across America’s education system and tapping into more inclusive talent streams, lawmakers and a panel of experts said Tuesday.
“Right now, the vast majority of the cybersecurity workforce is white and male–only 9% are African American, 4% are Hispanic and 11% are women,” Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Innovation Subcommittee Chairman Cedric Richmond, D-La., said at a hearing on the cyber talent pipeline in Washington. “Now that I have the gavel, I want to use it to drive home an important point: Diversity is essential for national security, and for cybersecurity.”
In his opening statement, Richmond referenced the White House’s recently issued executive order on America’s Cybersecurity Workforce, noting that it was “mostly silent” on diversity.
“Officials reportedly explained that they ‘hoped diversity would be a natural byproduct’ of the order,” Richmond said. “This is exactly the type of thinking we cannot afford to have if we are serious about reversing trends.”
Panelists from across industry and academia offered insights into ensuring equitable representation of women and minorities within the cybersecurity field.
Richard Gallot Jr. serves as president of Grambling State University, a historically black university, that will soon launch Louisiana’s first cybersecurity undergraduate program and America’s 13th. Gallot said establishing partnerships and pushing collaboration between K-12 institutions, community colleges and universities is vital to addressing the issue and increasing access to cyber education particularly for people in rural areas that may have less opportunities.
“Creating that pipeline from high school to either a community or junior ..