What Threats Impact Tech Teams?

How toxic is your tech team? Yep, we are looking at you.

A toxic tech team is a group of individuals working in the technology industry who engage in behaviour or practices that create a negative work environment. This can include behaviour such as harassment, discrimination, bullying, or exclusion. In a toxic tech team, individuals may feel unsafe, unsupported, or undervalued, which can lead to high levels of stress and low job satisfaction.

These kinds of teams may also lack diversity and inclusion, which can contribute to a negative culture. At Core to Cloud, we combat stereotypes daily, and this is another one we want to lift the lid on and expose. A common lack of inclusion or diversity is the absence of non-male team members.

Why is the tech world so toxic for women?

There is a significant gender gap in the cybersecurity field, with women being underrepresented in the industry. While the exact figures may vary depending on the source and methodology, the following are some statistics that provide an indication of the extent of this gap:

  • According to a 2021 study by (ISC)², a global cybersecurity professional organisation, women make up only 24% of the cybersecurity workforce worldwide. This is a slight increase from 2020, when women made up only 20% of the workforce.
  • Another report from Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that women represent just 20% of the cybersecurity workforce globally.
  • A 2019 study by the Centre for Cyber Safety and Education found that women make up only 24% of the cybersecurity workforce in North America.
  • A 2020 report from the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) in the United States found that women hold only 29% of the cybersecurity jobs in the country.

These statistics highlight the significant underrepresentation of women in the cybersecurity industry, which is a concern given the importance of diversity and inclusivity in building strong cybersecurity defences. When you include the issues with poor benefits and lack of maternal perks within this sector, the above isn’t too shocking, but the impact of this lack of inclusion is.

Toxic tech teams that exclude or mistreat women can be a threat to cybersecurity in several ways.

Firstly, a lack of diversity in tech teams can lead to groupthink, which can make it difficult to identify and address security risks. If the team members all share similar backgrounds and experiences, they may approach security challenges from a narrow perspective and miss vulnerabilities that could be identified by a more diverse team.

Secondly, women and other underrepresented groups in tech may be discouraged from reporting security concerns or speaking up about potential issues if they feel that their contributions are not valued or that they will face retaliation or ostracism for raising concerns. This can create a culture of silence that prevents security issues from being identified and addressed in a timely manner.

Thirdly, if women and other underrepresented groups are excluded from the hiring process, the pool of qualified candidates may be smaller, leading to a skills gap and making it more difficult to fill critical roles on the team. This can increase the workload on existing team members, leading to burnout and potentially leaving the organisation vulnerable to security risks.

Overall, a toxic tech team that excludes or mistreats women can lead to a less diverse, less effective, and less secure team, which can put the organisation at risk. 

Let’s face it, things need to change.

Do we need more women in tech?

Yes. This has been a known area of focus for all the technology sectors for a while…

The problem though is that there are not enough changes happening to ensure that it is a level playing field, with organisations missing the mark on how to attract and connect with a more diverse candidate pool. From an organisational level, there need to be huge changes in recruitment, retention and also understanding of diversity and its importance. 

How to detoxify your tech team:

It may feel like a lost cause, like it is too big of a problem to even begin to solve, but here are some places to start. This needs to be a combined effort, and at Core to Cloud, we are happy to share some of the amazing tips from the inspiring women we meet through our events, podcasts, clients and vendors!

“There are still some roles that are very male-dominated such as software engineering. There is just not enough encouragement for girls within this sector”

Irina Nesterovsky, Chief Research Officer, KELA 

Irina shows the importance of educational systems and organisations ensuring that their outreach is targeted to a diverse audience. Make sure that you encourage everyone to consider a tech role or learn about your organisation.

“People assume it is all technical, but there is room and need for non-technical stuff too. There are many different roles that you can perform and not all of them are technical skills based”

Vanessa Cardwell, Marketing Director at Bite IT

Vanessa showcases the misunderstanding that is a common stereotype of working within technical roles. We all need to be better at peeling the complexity out of our sector to encourage new individuals to join and give their insight.

It is time we detoxed our tech teams and recognised the impact it is having on innovation, safety and diversity within technological sectors. If you want to hear more from an inspiring group of women that share their stories and tips for navigating the Cybersecurity sector, then check out our e-book here:

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