Encouraging women & girls to pursue careers in cybersecurity, computer science, and counter cybercrime work


DAKAR Globally women are severely underrepresented in the field of cybersecurity. As part of Cybersecurity Awareness month in Senegal, UNODC and the Ministry of Digital Economy and Telecommunications held an online workshop focusing on encouraging girls and women to follow studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and pursue careers in cybersecurity.

In 2018, women accounted for just 10 percent of the cybersecurity workforce in the Asia-Pacific region, 9 percent in Africa, 8 percent in Latin America, 7 percent in Europe, and 5 percent in the Middle East. 

“By promoting women working in these areas and showcasing their talents, we hope to encourage our partners to also consider women as important players in cybersecurity and law enforcement. Increasing women's participation in cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime is good for women, good for business and good for society” said Carmen Corbin, Head of Counter Cybercrime Programming for Africa at UNODC. The webinar was live-streamed and attracted over 250 viewers. 

In 2017, the share of women working in the field of cybersecurity in the U.S was only slightly better at 14 percent. Women are even less well represented in senior positions in the IT security field with just 1 percent of female cybersecurity experts in senior positions.

The low representation of women in cybersecurity is related to the broader problem of their low representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  To attract more women to cyber safety and fight cyber-crime, governments, non-profit organizations, professional and trade associations and the private sector need to work together.

UNODC plays a key role in encouraging women and girls to pursue careers in cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime. Through high-level partnerships to help equip police, prosecutors, and judges with the skills needed to investigate and prosecute cybercrime, money laundering, and the financing of terrorism, UNODC provides training and capacity building programs on how to investigate and prosecute cybercrime.

UNODC also strives to ensure that women are always included as trainees and trainers in our programs.

Given that so many women and girls are victims of online crime, it is important for more women to be represented in criminal justice jobs, such as the police, prosecutors, and judges, who share their experiences and are more approachable.

“In my experience, I have had many cases where the victims have been young girls. I often felt that I could more easily understand their concerns and worries about their case and that I could more easily communicate and discuss these concerns with their parents,” said Ms. Corbin, a former US prosecutor.

Women are more often victims of cybercrime and can receive intimidating messages, threats of violence, and sexually explicit text, e-mail, images and videos via dating sites, social networks, and other online platforms.

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