RMIT University and Australian Women in Security Network tackle challenges in the security sector

RMIT University and Australian Women in Security Network will explore studies and investigate how to overcome pressing skills and diversity challenges in the local security sector.

Australia requires an additional 7,000 practitioners in the cyber security sector alone by 2024, according to AustCyber.

Given there is growing awareness for diversity, organizational performance, decision-making and responsiveness to real world challenges, the lack of skills the cyber security sector may imply that the sector is not operating as optimally as it could.

“Current available estimates suggest that women comprise somewhere between 11% and 24% of the cybersecurity workforce, there is no robust measure of the gender composition of Australia’s security industry, or a clear picture of the types of jobs that women are undertaking and the skills they possess,” commented RMIT Center for Cybersecurity Research and Innovation director and professor Matt Warren.

“This study will aim to give a more robust and definitive estimate of the gender diversity within the security workforce,” he said.

Australian Women in Security Network (ASWN) executive director Jacqui Loustau said the joint studies will allow AWSN to assess the impact of its initiatives.

“By having a baseline and a clearer picture of the actual number of women working in the security industry, it will allow us to measure the success of initiatives to attract, support and retain women in the industry,” she said.

The partnership between ASWN and RMIT University is sponsored by Australian Signals Directorate, a national security agency.

RMIT economist and research team member Dr Leonora Risse added that the research project would also provide “a deeper understanding of the barriers and enablers to women’s careers in the security sector.”

“The insights generated by the research project will be valuable for expanding the sector’s talent pool and equipping it for the growing challenges and demands it faces in the future,” she said.

“While existing research suggests general ways to expand the sector’s talent pool, there is little focus on gender inequalities and the factors that explain women’s low representation in the sector,” Risse said.

“This project provides insights to better understand the factors that can either support or deter women from pursuing, and flourishing in, a career in the security sector.”


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