2014 Cool Careers in Cybersecurity for Girls Workshop

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Event for middle school students featured hands-on activities and interactions with female cybersecurity professionals

The Cool Careers in CyberSecurity for Girls Workshop significantly contributes to increasing the number of women in this exciting field.

The National CyberWatch Center K-12 Division, led by Educational Technology Policy, Research and Outreach (ETPRO), in partnership with the College of Southern Maryland, and with funding support from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), welcomed one hundred and fifty public middle school girls to the Cool Careers in Cybersecurity for Girls ™ Workshop on December 3, 2014.

Created to assist young women in learning the skills necessary to have a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the program creates a digital crime scenario to allow students to take a hands-on approach to solving instances of cybercrime. Students are also able to learn more about careers in cybersecurity from women employed in the field throughout the state of Maryland, and take part in activities like cryptography, assembling a computer, cell phone forensics, learning about the education required and the salary ranges for careers in cybersecurity and other STEM fields.

“The event stems from the need to attract and retain women in the STEM workforce, and the growing need for cybersecurity professionals, particularly in this geographic location,” said Dr. Davina Pruitt-Mentle, Executive Director of ETPRO and the National CyberWatch Center K-12 Division.

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 as youth, especially if they come from lower-income families. These seminars provide targeted programs to educate women on these job opportunities, and assist in recruiting and retaining young talent for science and technology fields.

“The Cool Careers in CyberSecurity for Girls Workshop significantly contributes to increasing the number of women in this exciting field, and we are excited to partner with NCC to offer this unique opportunity” said Jeffrey Wells, Executive Director of Cyber Development at the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

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: http://www.edtechpolicy.org/cyberk12/ and http://www.coolcareersforgirls.org/

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Davina Pruitt-Mentle
ETPRO
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