Laura Amo - SUNY Buffalo

Dec 02, 2015

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"Gender Gaps in Cybersecurity Engagement and Self-Efficacy Growth Trajectories"

Abstract

Females are significantly less likely to pursue tech-focused careers, and have significantly lower self-efficacy in technical domains. Despite initiatives to increase female participation in STEM majors, the percentage of females pursuing college degrees in computer and information science actually decreased between 2004 and 2012 in the United States. Towards the ultimate goal of increasing female representation in the cyber workforce, it is important to spark and nurture females’ engagement and self-efficacy during formative years in middle and high school. As a first step, we need to define and measure cybersecurity engagement and self-efficacy. In this talk, I will discuss my work in the area of cybersecurity engagement and self-efficacy measurement by introducing the Cybersecurity Engagement and Self-Efficacy Scale. I present results from a pilot study of 34 participants (ages 13 – 17) that tracked growth in cybersecurity engagement and self-efficacy across three time points. Overall, females initially demonstrated significantly lower cybersecurity engagement and self-efficacy relative to males. However, over the course of five days of hands-on learning and simulated cyber-attack, female participants demonstrated significantly greater growth over time and the gender-based gaps in cybersecurity engagement and self-efficacy disappeared. This suggests that informal, activity-based learning experiences are crucial for reducing gender-based gaps in cyber-related domains and may serve as a starting point for promoting female participation, pursuit, and persistence in applied cybersecurity.

About the Speaker

Laura earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Quantitative Methods from the University at Buffalo in 2015. She is a visiting assistant professor with the UB School of Management in Management Science and Systems where she teaches large classes in statistics and analytics. Her research in cybersecurity focuses on measuring engagement and self-efficacy, as well as exploring gender differences in growth in these areas. Laura is also currently exploring the role of information-seeking self-efficacy in reducing the education gap in eHealth behaviors, and exploring the role of policy and psychological factors associated with misuse of information systems.

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