Cool Careers in Cybersecurity for Girls Expands to Close the Gender Gap in Technology

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National CyberWatch Center Kicks Off National Tour

Cool Careers in Cybersecurity for Girls is addressing the gender gap directly by giving girls a glimpse at what careers in cybersecurity are all about.

Cool Careers in Cybersecurity for Girls (C34G), a program developed to educate, inspire, and provide girls with the information, skills and resources necessary to navigate the professional pipeline in the vast field of Cybersecurity, kicked off its National Tour this month with two Maryland events. The National Tour will reach over 3000 middle school girls across ten states.

“While women make up 50 percent of the workforce, females account for only a quarter of all STEM related personnel and only 10 percent of the cybersecurity workforce,” said Dr. Davina Pruitt-Mentle, founder of C34G and Director of the National CyberWatch Center K-12 Division. “Partnering with non-profits including schools, libraries, and higher education institutions, Cool Careers in Cybersecurity is addressing the gender gap directly by giving girls a glimpse at what careers in cyber are all about.”

The Cool Careers in Cybersecurity for Girls Program allows girls to meet and hear from female professionals in the field, explore several cybersecurity related hands-on activities, and learn more about cyber and other STEM related careers. At each of the events a Cyber Crime Scenario is presented to the girls. The attendees are broken up into small Cyber Security Investigative (CSI) teams of 8-10 and rotate around different “cyber tables” to gather clues to solve the cybercrime. Each table has a different activity led by a women professional in the field. The girls use the first part of each rotation to gather a clue, and the remainder of each rotation to learn more about a career and how each representative entered the field. Girls find out more about the education skills needed, their likes and dislikes within that area, and the salary range of the profession. Activities have included: cryptography, assembling a computer, steganography, penetration testing, programming and cell phone forensics.

“The event stems from the need to attract and retain women in the STEM workforce, and the growing need for cybersecurity professionals,” continued Pruitt-Mentle. “Many are unfamiliar with the career options within this field, and girls are excited to see the variety of choices. Through the years we have made a significant impact in the Maryland-DC area, and we are thrilled to expand and take the program nationally.”

While women in these careers have made progress over the last few decades, the number of women in these industries significantly lags behind males. Research has shown that up until grade three, girls and boys show an equal amount of interest in STEM areas of study, but that number drastically decreases as these young women move through middle and high school. Another issue is that women and minorities often have limited exposure to computers in youth, especially if they come from lower-income families. C34G provides targeted programs to educate women on these job opportunities, and assists in recruiting and retaining young talent for science and technology fields.

Cool Careers for Girls in Technology workshops began in 2001, and the Cool Careers in Cybersecurity for Girls Workshops began in 2005. Through funding from the National Science Foundation, the event has been held annually in the Mid-Atlantic Region, impacting over 7500 middle school girls to date. More details on Cool Careers in Cybersecurity for Girls can be found at: and

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