Cybersecurity Resources and Organizations for Underrepresented Populations
Are you ready to discover your college program?
Cybersecurity jobs offer above-average salaries and faster-than-average growth projections. However, gender, racial, and ethnic minorities remain underrepresented in this field.
People in these groups earn disproportionately fewer computer science degrees than white men. Reasons for the lack of diversity in cybersecurity may include companies' recruiting methods, a lack of representative role models in the field, and discriminatory practices.
Inclusivity offers many upsides. A diverse workforce spurs innovation. It also promotes economic mobility, because cybersecurity workers from underrepresented groups can earn above-average salaries. For example, information security analysts earned a median annual salary of $103,590 as of 2020, compared to the national median of $41,950 for all workers.
This guide explores the benefits representing all groups in the cybersecurity field and strategies for diversifying the industry’s workforce. We also include some of the best cybersecurity resources for professionals of gender, racial, and ethnic minorities.
Why Cybersecurity Needs Diversity
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 33% job growth rate (much faster than average) for information security analysts from 2020-2030.
Demand for cybersecurity professionals already exceeds the supply. CyberSeek reports that there are only enough cybersecurity workers in the U.S. to fill 68% of open positions. The low supply of cybersecurity professionals creates high demand by employers. This can lead to excellent compensation packages for employees.
People from groups that are typically underrepresented in cybersecurity can take advantage of this favorable job market. Pursuing cybersecurity roles can help address the cybersecurity labor shortage and bring perspectives that enrich the industry as a whole.
CyberSeek reports that there are only enough cybersecurity workers in the U.S. to fill 68% of open positions.
People from underrepresented groups who enter cybersecurity often bring skills from other industries and fields. They can help find new ways of solving problems.
Improving Diversity in the Cybersecurity Industry
Many organizations strive to close the diversity gap in STEM and cybersecurity. Efforts to improve diversity in cybersecurity often focus on creating tech-related educational opportunities for potential recruits. These efforts include initiatives for high school and college students, along with professional development workshops.
Some organizations offer scholarships for students pursuing computer science or cybersecurity degrees. Mentorship programs allow people from underrepresented groups to network and receive career assistance.
Some initiatives focus specifically on leadership development for underrepresented groups in STEM fields or cybersecurity. These efforts include skills training, conferences, mentorship, and other assistance for working professionals already in the field.
Explore our list below to learn about the best organizations improving diversity in cybersecurity.
Organizations Supporting Diversity in Cybersecurity
Many organizations support diversity in cybersecurity. This is not an exhaustive list, but it offers some good cybersecurity resources for underrepresented populations.
- Black Girls Code: Black Girls Code helps young women of color enter the tech industry by teaching computer programming and technology skills. The group offers workshops, summer camps, code clubs, and hackathons.
- Minorities in Cybersecurity: MiC pushes for diversity at the highest levels in the cybersecurity field. It encourages cybersecurity workers from underrepresented groups to become leaders. Members can pursue leadership development opportunities, career resources, and training.
- Secure Diversity: Secure Diversity helps women and workers from underrepresented groups find cybersecurity roles. The nonprofit offers career development assistance, groups and meetups, and cybersecurity resources. Secure Diversity also hosts a conference on diversity, equity, and inclusion in cybersecurity.
- Cyversity: Cyversity advocates for the representation of racial, ethnic, and gender minorities in cybersecurity. Members gain access to a job board, career readiness tools, training and development programs, and scholarship opportunities.
- Women in Cybersecurity: Founded in 2012 with a National Science Foundation grant, WiCyS recruits and advocates for women in cybersecurity. The organization offers mentorship, networking, and collaboration. Members can participate in professional development programs, career fairs, and conferences.
- Women's Society of Cyberjutsu: This national nonprofit advances women's careers in cybersecurity through networking, training, mentoring, and education. Members can pursue leadership opportunities and receive access to cybersecurity resources.
- Black Cybersecurity Association: BCA offers career training, skills development, and mentorship and internship opportunities for Black cybersecurity students and professionals.
- BLK Men in Tech: BLK Men in Tech provides technology engagement opportunities year-round for Black boys and men in high school and college.
- International Organization of Black Security Executives: This professional organization for minority security professionals offers cybersecurity resources and scholarship opportunities.
- Women in Security and Privacy: WISP advances women's leadership in the privacy and security fields. The group provides education, a mentorship program, cybersecurity resources and tools, and leadership opportunities to women.
The Role of Education in Increasing Diversity
Educational opportunities play a crucial role in fostering diversity in cybersecurity. Increasing the numbers of people from underrepresented populations who earn degrees in computer science, cybersecurity, or other related fields is one of the most obvious ways to diversify the industry.
Many organizations advocate for diversity in STEM programs. Some education efforts start even before college with summer camps and enrichment opportunities for middle and high school students.
Cybersecurity bootcamps also use education to prepare a more diverse workforce. Some bootcamps offer specific programs and scholarships for underrepresented groups. Working professionals already in the tech industry can pursue cybersecurity-related certifications to expand their career opportunities in IT security.
Check out the links below to learn more about what to expect from a cybersecurity degree.
- Most Diverse Cybersecurity Programs
- HBCUs With the Best Cybersecurity Programs
- Best Online Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity Programs
- Best Online Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs
- Certificate Programs in Cybersecurity
- Computer Science Degree Programs
Scholarships for Underrepresented Students
Many organizations offer scholarships for underrepresented students in cybersecurity. Below, explore scholarships for Black, Hispanic and Latino/a, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Indigenous American cybersecurity majors. We also include scholarships for women in cybersecurity.
Scholarships for Black Cybersecurity Majors
Administered by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, this scholarship serves Black students majoring in cybersecurity or information assurance. Each candidate must have a minimum 3.2 GPA and status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
The scholarship awards $10,000, plus up to $3,000 for on-campus housing.
Low to medium income high school students of color who reside in the Boston area and plan to pursue STEM degrees can apply. Two students can receive the $1,000 scholarship, with $500 awarded each semester.
Scholarships for Hispanic and Latino/a Cybersecurity Students
This $1,000 scholarship recognizes students who excel in their communities and science or engineering. Applicants must be first or second generation immigrants in their last year of high school or enrolled in college within the last six months.
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund partners with various organizations to offer scholarships to Hispanic and Latino/a students. Scholarship amounts range from $500-$5,000. Applicants must have Hispanic heritage and be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or DACA recipients.
Scholarships for Asian American and Pacific Islander Cybersecurity Students
APIA administers various scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander students. Scholarship amounts range from $2,500-$20,000. Eligibility requirements include a minimum cumulative 2.7 GPA, one letter of recommendation, and completion of the FAFSA.
CCAPW awards scholarships to Asian and Pacific Islander women from Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, and other counties.
Scholarships for Indigenous American Cybersecurity Majors
This fund offers more than 200 scholarships of up to $2,000 annually to eligible American Indian and Alaska Native students. Grantees must maintain minimum GPAs of 2.0. The application requires ACT or SAT transcripts and documentation of tribal enrollment.
This nonprofit specializes in scholarships for American Indians. Catching the Dream prioritizes awards for several subjects, including computer science. Each applicant must be an enrolled member of a U.S. tribe and at least one-quarter American Indian.
The fund accepts applications only from full-time students seeking bachelor's degrees or higher at accredited institutions.
Scholarships for Women in Cybersecurity
This fund awards up to 10 scholarships ranging from $1,000-$5,000 to women students pursuing information security-related degrees. Eligibility requirements include a minimum 3.3 GPA, one letter of recommendation, a resume, and an essay. Students from any country can apply.
This scholarship recognizes full-time female college students who demonstrate the potential to excel in a STEM field. Each applicant must be a member of the Armed Forces or in an ROTC program, hold a minimum overall 2.8 GPA, and major in a STEM-related field. They must be enrolled at an accredited college in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, or Florida.
This scholarship offers funding and mentorship to women pursuing cybersecurity careers in financial services in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Africa, or the Asia Pacific. Each recipient receives $10,000, cybersecurity work experience, and a mentor.
Additional Scholarships for Cybersecurity Students
This scholarship supports women and minority students pursuing STEM degrees. The $1,000 award is open to high school seniors through college juniors. The committee prefers applicants with GPAs of at least 3.0.
Minority high school and college students from low-income households can apply for this scholarship program. Scholarship requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA and a STEM major.
This scholarship recognizes a woman planning to work in cybersecurity. Applicants must be women in their junior or senior years. Women enrolled in master's programs studying information security may also apply.
Tips for Getting Scholarships
Scholarships provide crucial support for cybersecurity students from underrepresented groups. Some of the cybersecurity resources and organizations in this guide offer scholarships or advice about where to find them. Start researching and applying for scholarships as early as possible. Make sure to consider that scholarships can affect other financial aid eligibility.
Go to the Financial Aid Office
You can find scholarship resources and receive application help at your college's financial aid office.
Use the Scholarship Search Tool From the U.S. Department of Labor
Research and find various scholarships for minorities using this free scholarship search tool.
Get Help From Your Advisor
Set up an appointment with your advisor to ask for advice about applying for scholarships. They might even review your applications to make them as strong as possible.
Ask for Letters of Recommendation
Many scholarships ask applicants to submit letters of recommendation. Consider asking teachers, coaches, or employers and give them enough time and information to write persuasive letters.
Transitioning Into a Cybersecurity Profession
Someone who already works in the tech industry can pursue a cybersecurity certification to jumpstart a new career. Popular cybersecurity certifications include the certified information systems security professional from (ISC)². ISACA also offers certified information systems auditor and certified information security manager credentials.
Individuals who do not already work in tech may want to return to school to earn a cybersecurity degree. Those who do not plan to earn a traditional degree might consider a cybersecurity bootcamp instead.
Bootcamps usually require significantly less time than degrees. Cybersecurity bootcamps focus on building practical, career-relevant skills in a short time. For more information on starting a transition into cybersecurity, see the links below.
- Free Cybersecurity Courses
- Best Cybersecurity Bootcamps
- Cybersecurity Certifications
- Transferring From General IT to Cybersecurity
FAQ About Cybersecurity Resources for Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups
How do I find scholarships for racial and ethnic minority students?
Along with the resources in this guide, reach out to your school's financial aid office, your high school counselor, professional organizations, and ethnicity-based groups.
What are some cybersecurity resources I should know?
Organizations like Minorities in Cybersecurity, Secure Diversity, Black Cybersecurity Association, and Black Girls Code offer cybersecurity resources. Women in Security and Privacy, BLK Men in Tech, and Women's Society of Cyberjutsu also provide information for individuals interested in cybersecurity careers.
Which groups are underrepresented in cybersecurity?
Black, Hispanic, and Latino/a workers are underrepresented in STEM professions. In general, all non-white racial and non-Hispanic and/or Latino/a ethnic groups are also underrepresented in cybersecurity leadership roles. Women held just 14% of cybersecurity positions in North America in 2017. Most gender-related data for cybersecurity only accounts for binary gender identities (men and women).
Why does diversity matter in cybersecurity?
Diversifying the cybersecurity industry can bring beneficial new skill sets and ways of thinking to the table. Underrepresented groups can also help address the current shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals.
Angelique Geehan works to support and repair the connections people have with themselves and their families, communities, and cultural practices. A queer, Asian, gender binary-nonconforming parent, Geehan founded Interchange, a consulting group that offers anti-oppression support. She organizes as part of several groups, including the National Perinatal Association's Health Equity Workgroup, the Health and Healing Justice Committee of the National Queer and Trans Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance, QTPOC+ Family Circle, and Batalá Houston.
Angelique Geehan is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.
Featured Image: gorodenkoff / iStock / Getty Images Plus