Innovative Program Girls Go CyberStart Provides Opportunities for Young Women in High School to Explore Careers in Cybersecurity
Governor Ned Lamont is encouraging young women in Westport high school to take advantage of an opportunity to explore their aptitude for cybersecurity and computer science by participating in the 2019 Girls Go CyberStart program. An initiative of the cybersecurity company SANS Institute, Girls Go CyberStart is a nationwide competition designed to inspire young women to explore careers in the field of cybersecurity.
Participating students – and their teachers – do not need prior knowledge or experience in information technology or cybersecurity to participate. It is free for all schools and students in grades 9 through 12, and participants only need a computer and an internet connection. In Connecticut, at least ten high school girls will receive $500 scholarships for participating.
“The fields of computer science and cybersecurity are growing in demand, and we do not want our next generation of young women to be left out of this conversation,” Governor Lamont said. “Exposing students to technology from an early age is the best way to engage them in considering this field as a career.”
“The reality is that there currently aren’t enough women in STEM fields,” Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz said. “This competition is a great opportunity to encourage girls and young women in Connecticut to pursue high-paying careers in cybersecurity and computer science. With more women working in STEM, we can begin to erase the gender pay gap.”
Participants will use the CyberStart game an online series of challenges that allow students to act as cyber protection agents to solve cybersecurity-related puzzles and explore exciting, relevant topics such as cryptography and digital forensics. Connecticut high schools where at least five girls in the Girls Go CyberStart Program master six or more of the challenges will win access to the full CyberStart game for their entire school, extending the competition to both male and female students for the remainder of the school year. Students will also have the opportunity to win cash prizes for themselves and their schools.
Both male and female college students also have the opportunity to play CyberStart this year. The college program, called Cyber FastTrack, is a pipeline to $2.5 million in scholarships for advanced cybersecurity education, as well as internships and jobs in the field.
“In the digital age we live in, cybersecurity is essential in both the public and private sector,” Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella said. “This great program will help shape our future leaders in this growing field. DESPP looks forward to once again partnering with the SANS Institute on this important initiative and encourages all young women to take advantage of this opportunity.”
“The study of computer science fosters the kind of creativity and innovative thinking that are key to learning to collaborate, answering complex questions and advancing solutions for real world problems,” Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell said. “GirlsGoCyber is designed to equip young women with the skills and knowledge needed to compete in a diverse and globally-driven workforce for high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand careers. Exposure now to foundational STEM skills, cybersecurity and computer science principles in the K-12 classroom will prepare our young women to succeed in college, careers and life.”
Complete details may be found at girlsgocyberstart.org for Girls Go CyberStart and at cyber-fasttrack.org for Cyber FastTrack. High school girls may register for Girls Go CyberStart beginning now through March 25, when the games begin. College students may register for Cyber FastTrack beginning April 5, and they will be able to start playing immediately. To see the types of challenges the students will face in the games, visit go.joincyberstart.com.