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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Underrepresentation of Females in the United States Cybersecurity Workforce: A Multiple-case Study
by James, Sturhonda L., Ph.D., Capella University, 2019, 184; 22624480
Abstract (Summary)

The demand for cybersecurity jobs in the United States is growing at a rapid rate, but despite the high demand for cybersecurity professionals to fill these positions, females remain significantly underrepresented in the cybersecurity profession. The purpose of this qualitative multiple-case study was to explore the underrepresentation of females in the cybersecurity profession by examining the factors that contribute to the interest, hiring, development, advancement, and sustainability of females in this profession within the United States. The overarching research question asked, “why is there a disproportionately low representation of female workers in the U.S. cybersecurity industry?” This research question was answered by employing a multiple-case study approach that surveyed three distinct groups of individuals. Semistructured interviews were conducted with participants representing each of the three cases, and then within-case and cross-case analyses were utilized to generate themes from the data. The study’s target population consisted of individuals that are affected by the gender disparity in the cybersecurity profession. The sample included individuals that accurately represented the three cases chosen to explore the phenomenon: (a) female cybersecurity professionals working in the field, (b) female cybersecurity students intending to pursue a career in cybersecurity, and (c) male and female hiring managers responsible for filling cybersecurity positions. Thematic analysis of the interview data was conducted both within the individual cases and across the cases to achieve an overall impression of the phenomenon. Five themes emerged from the data analysis, and these five themes demonstrated that (a) cybersecurity professionals’ confidence levels vary based on gender, (b) stereotypes and biases negatively impact females working in the cybersecurity profession, (c) marketing images and terminology associated with the cybersecurity profession are not gender inclusive, (d) early exposure to cybersecurity is key to increasing female interest in the profession, and (e) males hold the majority of gateway positions that influence entry into the cybersecurity profession. These findings can be used by scholars and practitioners to improve the recruitment, hiring, development, advancement, and retention of females in the cybersecurity profession in the United States.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: KIEU, HUNG
School: Capella University
Department: School of Business and Technology
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-B 81/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Information Technology
Keywords: cybersecurity, cyber security, diversity, gender gap, male-dominant, women
Publication Number: 22624480
ISBN: 9781687966742
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