On a recent trip to Johannesburg, I presented at the facilities of one of our CompTIA training partners.  Afterwards, I had the opportunity to field questions from over 100 college students. They asked a lot of interesting questions, mainly around getting a job and how CompTIA’s certifications could help them get that job and start on a great career path.

With an incredible excess of four million open IT jobs globally and the workforce expected to shrink by over 30% in the next ten to fifteen years due to retirees, these sharp students all agreed they made the right career choice in choosing to study IT.

Interestingly, almost half the audience was female.  – a very similar ratio to the group of students I spoke with in Kuala Lumpur earlier this summer.  This gives me confidence that we were making great strides in getting more women into the world of IT.

That was, until I read an article in Inc.com which suggests the gap between young men and women considering a career in the field of cybersecurity is widening.  (The results stem from a survey of almost 4,000 people ages 18-26 from 12 countries.)

Attracting young talent, particularly women, represents a huge challenge for the tech industry. If the trend continues, the already dire shortage of qualified tech workers will grow worse. Last summer, Google, Facebook, Apple and other big tech companies released figures showing that men out number women 4:1 or more in their technical sectors.

Based on recent research, women make up half our population and yet, just 10-15% of tech jobs in the U.S. were held by women (down from 35% in 1990). During the same period, the number of women earning computing degrees also declined.

This is alarming considering we all recognize the threat to our livelihoods from cyber criminals and that this issue is one of the key talking points in boardrooms across the world.

Innovative ideas are critical to addressing this challenge. I was thrilled to hear about a New York school that teaches amateur coders the skills to land high-paying professional jobs. Fullstack Academy won’t charge tuition fees for its brand new all-women school until after its students land a job.

It is straightforward common sense: If a business only gets to pick staff from half of the working population, then it is recruiting from a pretty reduced talent pool. More women need to be encouraged into IT careers so the industry can pick from the best of both genders and a broader mix of skills and personalities.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey.  All Rights Reserved.