Just 5% of National Media Cybersecurity Commentary Made by Women

London, March 11, 2021.  A new report into cybersecurity software providers’ presence in the UK press during the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that just 5% of the 234 quotes from cyber spokespeople in the national media came from women. 11 of the 15 cybersecurity companies researched had zero female spokespeople quoted during the pandemic in 2020, highlighting the severity of the gender gap in the cybersecurity industry.

The review of top tier UK media coverage of cybersecurity during the 2020 pandemic (see below), produced by public relations firm Flagship Consulting, uncovers an array of valuable insights for communications professionals in the technology sector. It examines the stories that drove cybersecurity coverage in the national press, the publications that covered them the most frequently, and the companies which were most successful at securing media coverage.

The pandemic brought a wave of cybercrime with it in 2020, making cybersecurity stories particularly newsworthy, and providing opportunities for spokespeople to share their insight. Cybersecurity spokespeople featured in the media on 234 occasions during the lockdowns, with the Daily Express publishing more commentary than any other publication. Stories in the national media frequently highlighted the latest threats to consumers, security issues around remote working and privacy questions regarding the NHS Test and Trace project.

Diving deeper into the report’s findings on the gender of spokespeople, Flagship also spoke with top tier tech journalists about the cybersecurity sector, and found them unanimous in their view that the industry has a diversity problem. A 2020 study from Tessian showed that just 17% of UK IT professionals are female, but with 19 out of 20 appearances in the national media coming from male spokespeople, Flagship’s report makes it clear that communications departments are contributing to the disparity.

Mark Pinnes, Managing Director of Flagship, who led on the report said: “Equality activists often say, “You can only be what you can see.”  In-house comms leaders have far more power than they realise to increase equity in the industry. By giving the training, confidence and opportunities to diverse spokespeople, PR teams can help bring about exciting and fair employment opportunities in cybersecurity for the next generation.”

Helen Rabe, Chief Information Security Officer at Abcam, a global innovator in life science reagents and tools, said: “It is disappointing to hear that only 5% of our industry’s voice is female – I had hoped that with the improved visibility of this cause in recent decades we had managed to shift the number towards a higher percentage.

“Strengthening the voices of women will encourage talented young people into the security industry; companies should not only encourage their female security professionals to step forward and speak on cybersecurity topics, they should also provide the support and resources to help them achieve this.

“The value in having more women on the speaking platforms is immense, and will further encourage the notion that this is a dynamic, diverse industry for anyone who wishes to pursue their career in security.”

Martin Smith, Chairman & Founder of SASIG (The Security Awareness Special Interest Group), said: “The cybersecurity skills shortage is causing real impact for many organizations. This is the greatest strategic challenge the cybersecurity industry faces. Unless we can better and sustainably resource our industry then we’ll always be chasing our tails. In reality, the gap is between the many opportunities and those many seeking them including from previously overlooked diversities.

“Somehow, we must bring together the two sides. With its Cybersecurity Skills Festival in April, SASIG is offering real help in bridging this gap.”

To find out more, read the report in full below.

If you would like to speak to us about any of the findings, please get in touch on 020 7680 7104 or email Mark Pinnes at mark.pinnes@flagshipconsulting.co.uk.

Cybersecurity coverage in the pandemic