Men are ten times more likely to display risky cyber behaviors than women

A man is almost ten times more prone to risky use of computers than a woman, according to “Gender, Risk and Security”, a report highlighting the importance of gender balance in risk management strategy, published by CLTRe last year. As a significant influencing factor on the security culture of an organization, a gender-imbalanced workforce could be a security risk.

At CLTRe, we study how different human factors (age, gender, experience, attitudes, awareness, industry sector, etc) influence the dimensions of security culture, including risky behaviour, to discover how we can improve. Our research shows that the security culture of an organization varies greatly depending on the gender balance of the workforce. As we looked at all seven dimensions of security culture we continued to see fascinating discoveries.

How does skewed gender balance influence behavior?

One of our key findings is that gender influences how the team takes on risk, make decisions and communicates security issues. We found that male-dominated groups of employees (teams, departments and business units with a higher percentage of men compared to the number of women) displayed riskier behaviors. Interestingly, data also shows that female-dominated groups (groups with a significantly higher percentage of women than men) showed risk-averse behavior.

Imbalance in gender can be risky

These two discoveries provide further strong evidence that the gender balance of a workforce should be a crucial consideration for businesses, in particular for their risk management strategy.

The influence of gender on organizational security is significant. Understanding why men and women have a tendency to behave in different ways requires greater understanding of what drives that behavior, which is why we study all seven dimensions of security culture.

How does our gender influence other dimensions of security culture?

Despite displaying generally riskier behavior than women, we also learnt that men are more likely report a higher understanding of security principles. The women we studied showed a higher acceptance for rules and displayed better security behavior.

Huge security differences are observed across genders

This does not mean that men possess better understanding than women, instead these results show how people perceive their own understanding. In other words, the men we questioned had a higher level of confidence in their own understanding of security principles, whilst women reported a much lower understanding.

What can we learn from this new evidence?

Gender balance is an important risk-management strategy. Consider that an organization, department or team with a skewed gender balance is more likely to exert biased security risk behavior. Organizations should therefore strive to create good gender balance in all departments and teams.

Gender balance becomes increasingly important in departments and teams that focus on business-critical areas. Skewed balance in such teams can influence how the team take on risk, make decisions and communicate security issues.

Infographic on how gender influences risk and security

Want to learn more?

To read all about Gender, Risk and Security, a 20-page excerpt of the full 2017 Security Culture Report, dedicated to all the gender-related facts and findings, is available to download here: https://get.clt.re/gender

All our publicly-available reports and white papers can be found here: https://get.clt.re/downloads

If you are ready to see how the CLTRe Toolkit can provide deep insights to you and your organization, book a demo with us today! Simply go to https://get.clt.re/demo-booking, request your demo, and a member of our team will be touch asap.

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