Increase Diversity in Cyber Programs
October 27, 2022
Jordan Mason, program manager of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative’s (CCI) Northern Virginia (NoVa) Node, shared the strategies he used to increase diversity among program applicants at a webinar on Oct. 27.
CCI’s Inclusion & Diversity Committee sponsored the event as part of our mission of workforce development. Part of that mission is to increase the number of underrepresented groups in the cybersecurity field.
Mason’s discussion focused on strategies that the NoVa Node uses to field diverse cohorts in its programs, with a focus on its Cybersecurity Traineeship and Apprenticeship Program. These topics included identification of an ideal threshold in program representation and building relationships.
About Jordan Mason
Mason, program manager for Commonwealth Cyber Initiative Northern Virginia Node, is a certified Project Management Professional.
He’s passionate about building systems and processes that promote equity and accessibility.
Prior to his current role, Jordan spent six years working in Student Affairs at George Washington University, helping the university’s portfolio of student organizations navigate institutional financial policies and processes.
Diversity Boosts and Strengthens Cyber Workforce
These strategies are needed because the cybersecurity sector lacks diversity. A report from the Aspen Institute’s Tech Policy Hub says underrepresented groups such as Black (9 percent), Hispanic (4 percent) and Asian (8 percent) professionals form an increasingly low percentage of the cybersecurity workforce. Women are 51 percent of the population, but 24 percent of cybersecurity personnel.
Boosting these underrepresented groups will fill a need in both Virginia and the nation. As of September 2022, CyberSeek reported that the commonwealth had more than 56,000 cybersecurity job openings; there were almost 715,000 open positions in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a job growth rate of 35 percent from 2021 to 2031, or about 19,500 new positions each year.
About the CCI Inclusion and Diversity Committee
The committee works to inform, address, and increase diversity in the cybersecurity field by advising CCI’s Leadership Council on such issues as:
- Establishing programs to increase participation of underrepresented groups in the cyber workforce.
- Setting diversity goals and considerations in all CCI-funded programs.
- Organizing seminars, workshops, and training events that highlight diversity issues relevant to CCI research (bias in artificial intelligence systems, consideration of persons with disabilities in the autonomous system design, etc.).
- Creating outreach activities geared toward underrepresented groups in STEM.
The committee includes representatives from: