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  • 3CSv Focus Group: Diversifying the Cybersecurity Workforce

3CSv Focus Group: Diversifying the Cybersecurity Workforce

  • 1 Mar 2021
  • 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Zoom Online Conference Breakout Room
  • 1


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3CSv is an experiment in providing a more interactive, virtual forum - different from most virtual conferences where presenters simply talk at the participants.

Diversifying the Cybersecurity Workforce

A dialogue about the challenges, opportunities, and effective practices

Participation for this session is limited to 15 registrants. After these slots are filled, you may elect to be included in the wait list in the event of cancellations.

Track 1: Facilitated Online Focus Group

Focus group sessions examine issues involving multiple stakeholder groups who are debating the goals, success factors (objectives), and effective practices for successful mitigation or resolution of challenges, opportunities, or dilemmas facing the cybersecurity community.

Problem Definition

Ongoing shortages of cybersecurity talent is a widely recognized problem. Researchers have been arguing for more holistic perspectives on this problem for the past ten years (e.g., Assante & Tobey, 2011; Burrell & Nobles, 2018; Furnell & Bishop, 2020; Hoffman, Burley & Toregas, 2012). Yet little is known about the factors that influence the interest, engagement, development, recruitment, retention, and advancement of broadening participation in cybersecurity functions and roles that could expand and enhance the cybersecurity talent pool. In this focus group session, we invite practitioners, scholars, and educators to discuss the contributing causes, mediating or moderating influences, promising interventions, and evidence-based solutions for diversifying the cybersecurity workforce.


Diverse perspectives are essential for driving innovation and addressing the critical cybersecurity skills gap. A recent survey by Glassdoor found that three-quarters of job seekers and employees believe that a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce and diverse perspectives are important when evaluating new employment or advancement opportunities in organizations. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds (63%) thought that employers should be doing more to increase workforce diversity. Why? According to HR.com increased workforce diversity is associated with higher morale, greater productivity, increased creativity for problem solving, successful international expansion, and can generate return on investment exceeding 150% from turnover reduction in the first year alone.


Assante, M. J., & Tobey, D. H. (2011). Enhancing the cybersecurity workforce. IEEE IT Professional, 13(1), 12–15. https://doi.org/10/bhm8nq

Burrell`, D., & Nobles, C. (2018). Recommendations to develop and hire more highly qualified women and minorities cybersecurity professionals. In L. Leenen (Ed.), Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security: ICCWS 2018: Hosted by National Defense University, Washington DC, USA : 8-9 March 2018 (pp. 75–81). Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited.

Furnell, S., & Bishop, M. (2020). Addressing cyber security skills: The spectrum, not the silo. Computer Fraud & Security, 2020(2), 6–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1361-3723(20)30017-8 

Hoffman, L. J., Burley, D. L., & Toregas, C. (2012). Holistically building the cybersecurity workforce. IEEE Security Privacy, 10(2), 33–39. https://doi.org/10.1109/MSP.2011.181 

Guiding Questions

  1. Despite a decade of research and policy calling for increased diversity what obstacles, challenges, or impediments continue to constrain diversification of the cybersecurity workforce?

  2. What causes or encourages interest, engagement, development, recruitment, retention, and the broadening of participation in cybersecurity roles?

  3. How have, or might, employers or educators effectively increase the diversification of the cybersecurity workforce?

  4. What evidence exists or might be developed to validate effective practices for diversifying the cybersecurity workforce?

    This session will be recorded and an edited transcript prepared for publication in the 2021 Special Issue of the Cybersecurity Skills Journal on Diversifying the Cybersecurity Workforce. Session participants may elect to have their comments excluded from the transcript during registration.


Dr. David H. Tobey, Director, Research & Assessments, National CyberWatch Center, Assistant Professor of Management, Indiana University South Bend

(c)  National CyberWatch Center
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