Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly has set what she called an “ambitious goal” to fill talent gaps in the cybersecurity industry by targeting a 50 percent share of that workforce for women by 2030.

At the National Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) Conference on March 18, Easterly said that women only make up 24 percent of the cybersecurity workforce, despite the fact that women make up 51 percent of the global population.

“What’s wrong with this picture? The world is really missing out,” Easterly said at the event. “So, the reason that I came here today in person to spend time with all of you, is I want to charge all of us with a super ambitious goal and I need your help. We need to get to 50 percent of women in cybersecurity by the year 2030 … because without more women in our field, we know we are missing out on incredible talent.”

If the industry doesn’t start to recruit more women into the cybersecurity field, Easterly said “there’s still going to be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by the year 2025.”

Easterly explained that at the end of the day, cybersecurity is not about technology, but rather it’s about the people who work to make the world safer and more secure.

CISA is working to build a diverse, collaborative, and empowered workforce, Easterly said, because “nothing’s more important than having a good foundational culture to build an excellent team.”

“Attracting and retaining great talent requires emotionally intelligent leaders who know how to build that trust, who can cultivate that environment where people love what they do, they respect their teammates, they feel empowered by their leaders and they feel like they’re making a difference every single day,” Easterly said. “And the really good news is – this is great news – research shows that women actually outperform in the important facets of emotional intelligence – to include inspirational leadership, coaching and mentoring, and adaptability.”

“So, this is really the future,” she continued. “We have the technical skills and we have emotional intelligence. This is the future of cybersecurity. I have seen the future of cybersecurity and sisters, it’s us.”

Read More About
More Topics
Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.