While cleared jobs began as a male-dominated enterprise, our country has spent the past 100 years trying to shift to be a more opportunistic working culture for women. Lawmakers in recent years have raised concerns that disproportionate female attrition in security roles, as well as the military, may harm the Defense Department’s readiness and take an economic toll. When it comes to the national security workforce, it’s clear there is a need to not just attract a diverse talent pool, but be ready to retain them, as well.

making defense careers attractive to all candidates

There are a myriad of avenues to enter the national security workforce. The military is one route, college or trade programs leading to government jobs are another. The three primary college majors connected to security clearance jobs are computer science, engineering, and political science. The most popular majors for women in college are elementary education, fashion design, and nursing/occupational therapy. The most popular majors for men are engineering, physics, and computer science. Only 18% of today’s engineering graduates are women.┬áBased on degree programs and military enrollment alone, the pipeline to a national security career is stacked with more men than women.

The Opportunities Are Growing and the Landscape is Changing

It’s clear that when it comes to making national security careers more attractive to women, more work needs to be done in introducing young women and girls to the prospects of a national security career from a young age. Young women also need to see themselves in careers by looking to the current ranks of the defense industry, and seeing where women are already leading well. Unlike years past, women today are dominating across the C-suite of the defense industry, and in 2018 four of the top five defense contracting firms were all led by women. With role models to look up to, and job opportunities to be had, many government agencies are now focusing on one of the most critical aspects of making national security careers attractive to women – retention.

Related News

Brandon is from La Vista, Nebraska, and is finishing up his degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Management major and minors in Economics and Marketing. Career aspirations are dealing with human relationships, in whichever way fits best.