The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has taken on a number of recent initiatives to build a diverse cyber workforce, which DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly outlined today during the third week of the CISA Cybersecurity Summit.

CISA’s theme for the week is, “Team Awesome: The Cyber Workforce,” and Mayorkas took the time to outline a few of DHS’ recent efforts to build a diverse cyber team.

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“As cyber threats continue to evolve, we’re making investments to ensure our department remains agile and can continue adapting to a changing threat landscape. This includes developing a cybersecurity workforce that is big enough, skilled enough, prepared enough, and diverse enough to protect our businesses and our communities for years to come,” Mayorkas said in his remarks today.

In July, Mayorkas announced that DHS onboarded over 300 new cybersecurity employees and made an additional 500 tentative job offers during its 60-day Cybersecurity Workforce Sprint, exceeding the sprint’s original goal by 50 percent. Mayorkas also noted CISA expanded its K-12 initiative to build the next generation of diverse cybersecurity professionals.

In September, the agency announced a partnership with Girls Who Code to develop pathways for young women to pursue careers in cybersecurity and technology.

Mayorkas also noted DHS’ partnership with the Girl Scouts, “to help girls in grades six through 12, learn about cybersecurity, and hopefully inspire them to become the cybersecurity, leaders of tomorrow.”

“At our department, we’re driving these efforts across the board with a specific focus on building a top-tier diverse cyber workforce, inside and outside of government,” Mayorkas emphasized.

In a conversation with Girls Who Code CEO Dr. Tarika Barrett, Easterly noted that only 24 percent of the cybersecurity workforce is currently comprised of women. She said the cybersecurity workforce is “missing out on a huge talent pool,” and promoting women in cyberspace is “absolutely vital.”

“That’s why I’m so super psyched about our partnership because we, together – the power of Girls Who Code, the power of what we’re building here and CISA as the nation’s cyber and infrastructure defense agency – we can come together to build that next generation of cyber talent, where young women everywhere can see themselves in cyber, can see themselves in tech, can see themselves in us,” Easterly said.

“I think together we are going to collaboratively help close that gender gap and bring more talented young women into the workforce to prepare our nation to really be able to defend ourselves against some of the most serious threats there are,” Easterly said.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.