In a November 2014 article, Lowell McAdam the CEO of Verizon made the following very bold public statement, “It’s Wrong That in a Room of 25 Engineers, Only 3 Are Women.”
Lowell’s very intriguing article went on to quote several other very compelling facts and figures triggering resonance at so many levels, including the prediction that, “80% of all jobs in the next decade will require Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills.”
The prediction by itself on the surface is unsurprising since we can all relate to the transformational effects that information technology has had on our personal and professional lives.
When analyzed however, from a socio-economic context and ‘fused’ with another set of similarly quoted figures i.e. “74% of young women in middle school express interest in STEM, yet when choosing a college major, just 0.3% of young women in high school select computer science,” the implications and associated macro-economics become outright scary.
If you’re an African American or Latino, where the diversity representation approximates to roughly 50% of the net female representation in STEM related disciplines and particularly in the practicum of cybersecurity, it even more dismal.
Hence a ‘recast’ of Lowell’s bold statement to reflect the broader minority cybersecurity divide, the caption I suggest would most likely read as follows, “It’s Wrong That in a Room of 25 <>, Only three Are Women and only one is African American or Latino.”
Lowell is certainly not the first, nor is he the only one making these very public and very bold statements regarding the “Great Minority Cyber <> Divide,” or as it has become known in many circles, “The only one in the room problem.” The lack of women (and minorities) in STEM has been cited as recently as September 2014 in a US News & World Report as a “National Security Issue.”
The compulsion of the very necessary and the immediacy to just ‘do something’ to effect some small measure of social/societal change, in the face of a dramatic decline in interest level and involvement from minorities in the very fields that will be the backbone of the future global economy, gave birth to the formation of a grassroots volunteer-led 501(c)3 non-profit organization. This organization is dedicated to closing the gap of under-representation of women and minorities in the field of cybersecurity.
Obtaining official approval by the United States Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a Tax Exempt Non-Profit Public Charity organization operating under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in July of 2014, the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP) began official operations in September of 2014. ICMCP is organized exclusively for charitable educational purposes, specifically to provide educational/technical scholarships to its members, mentoring opportunities, professional development and networking.
With cybersecurity being cited as one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face across the world, ICMCP is among very few non-profit organizations intent on bridging that “Great Minority Cyber Divide.”