Just two years ago, the unemployment rate among IT professionals was approaching 9 percent. Despite virtually '0' unemployment now, women, African Americans, and Latinos are underrepresented.
Just two years ago, the unemployment rate among IT professionals was approaching 9 percent . It was the highest level in six years -- a full percentage point higher than it was just three months prior.
The IT profession, like most during recession uncertainty, took a hurting, experiencing significant job losses and leaving close to 200,000 IT professionals unemployed, Eric Chabro, executive editor of GovInfoSecurity.com wrote in 2009.
But what the recession took away, cybersecurity awareness revived. Almost two years to the day of the above, Chabro writes again about employment among IT professionals -- but this time with mixed news.
“According to the government statistics, the number of IT security analysts is steadily growing, though not necessarily as fast as employers want,” he wrote Tuesday. Statistics show that almost no unemployment exists among information security analysts. In fact, the demand from employers is growing. The IT workforce has increased 27 percent in the last six months.
But despite virtually no unemployment among IT security professionals, the scarcity of women, African Americans, Latinos and women is highly evident, he says.
From his analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Chabro says whites, who account for about 80 percent of the American workforce, make up 70 percent of the IT security workforce. African-Americans make up about 12 percent of the overall workforce, but seven percent of IT. Latinos make up 15 percent overall, but five percent of IT. Women also are underrepresented in the IT workforce: eight percent versus 45 percent overall.
Asians make up more than 20 percent of information security analysts, but only five percent of the American workforce, Chabro says. About one-quarter of Indian-born men in the United States are employed in IT, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Experts who gave input for Chabro’s report attributed the lack of diversity in IT positions to lack of diversity in the pool employers have to pull from.
Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, said many IT personnel come from the armed forces – a group dominated by white males. Karen Evans, national director of the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a program that encourages high school and college-age students to consider the IT field, said that children are taught what jobs they can and can’t do at a young ages and the option of IT isn't marketed well to those underrepresented populations.
Many colleges and nonprofits are offering scholarships for students in these underrepresented groups to try and diversify the field. (ISC)2, offers two scholarships totaling $40,000 for women in school working toward IT careers and the Illinois Cyber Security Scholars Program strongly encourages minorities and community college students to apply for their scholarship program that includes tuition, room and board, training, and an internship, for example.
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