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By Janoi Watson

Cybersecurity may be one of the only sectors that the gender pay gap is not a prominent issue. Companies are enthusiastic to pay more for female candidates and are vocal about women being on the shortlist of candidates presented to them. However, our 2019 research has called into question whether this is the best tactic to attract more women into the industry.

Only 25% of women that we surveyed, thought they were paid the same as a man doing the equivalent job. The research that we have, suggests that women are being paid at least the same, if not more, than a man doing the same job as them. There have been numerous companies that attempt to fix the lack of female diversity within their cybersecurity teams by adapting a more open and welcoming process.

One of the reasons for the perception that women are not being remunerated as well, may be more to do with experience per person, rather than comparisons within the job. Consultants or managers in large companies can vary hugely in salary and pay is often based on previous experience as much as the job they are being asked to do.

Through analysis we’ve found a clear difference in the way female candidates are given offers. We compared 5 female candidates and 5 male candidates. We were able to conclude that women are earning more than their male counterparts regardless of educational experience or practical work experience. For a more in depth analysis, please read our women in cyber report here

Flexible working is the most imperative factor to women when changing jobs. This is a question we also ask in our annual salary, so it has made for an interesting comparison. Year on year, career progression is given as the most important factor when changing job. To see women putting this so much lower than flexible working, highlights the significance. If employers are trying to attract more female candidates by paying higher salaries, they are costing themselves more and are potentially going to lose out to more flexible employers. Women do almost double the amount of childcare in a week compared to men, so it is unsurprising that women value this more. We also hear this from women without children, who are maybe considering it for the future. They are taking lower level jobs, with lower salaries, to keep flexibility or maternity benefits.

Employers can use this information in various ways. The war for talent in cybersecurity is undeniable. Finding candidates with the right skillset is hard, let alone finding female ones. Some key points that might help are considering if flexible working is achievable for the role you are hiring. We now know this is one of the most important things to female candidates. Many male candidates’ value this to so be as open minded as possible, considering the language in job adverts and job descriptions. There are many options available to analyse your documents to see if they are equally appealing to men and women and considering how much of your job description is a must have and how much is a nice to have. We still see job descriptions that are unachievable wish lists and there is research that tells us this makes women less likely to apply.

Candidates can also use this information. The advice could apply slightly differently to men and women, but the cybersecurity job market is buoyant with progression and salary increases available to everyone who is good at their job. Be clear on what you are looking for. Consider what is important to you and tailor your job search or expectations around what you want the most, consider how realistic your salary expectations are. Look at average salaries for the role you do, understand what experience is typical and set your expectations accordingly. Generally, in the UK, increases above 25% are hard to achieve. If you want to achieve more than this, you need to be clear on why your expectations are there and if you think you are being paid unfairly, ask to speak with your HR team to assess this and to work out a suitable solution.

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