Gov. John Carney and Chief Information Officer James Collins have announced that Delaware is again partnering with the SANS Institute on an initiative to empower high school girls by helping them discover if they have an interest and aptitude for a career in cybersecurity. Registration is open, and Girls Go CyberStart play will begin Wednesday, March 20.
High school girls in ninth through 12th grades are invited to participate in the Girls Go CyberStart challenge to compete for prizes and the opportunity for 50 additional students in their school to play, extending the competition. A total of $200,000 in scholarships for high school juniors and seniors who do well in the game has also been made available. In Delaware, at least 10 high school girls will win $500 scholarships to help them pay for college.
Girls Go CyberStart is a free, innovative, online game of discovery that guides participants through challenges and puzzles which test decision-making skills and introduce concepts such as open-source intelligence, cryptography, web application and more, to spark interest in the field of cybersecurity.
In 2018, 287 girls represented 113 teams from 26 Delaware high schools in Girls Go CyberStart. The goal for 2019 is to increase those numbers.
“We know that women are underrepresented in STEM fields, and we must empower our young women through creative initiatives like Girls Go CyberStart,” said Carney. “We are excited to again be partnering with the SANS Institute, and we want to encourage our young women in high school to take advantage of this opportunity to explore career options in this vital field.”
“Girls Go CyberStart is a really fun way for young women to try their hand at cybersecurity, and parents like it because it’s free,” said Collins. “We have to be purposeful about creating opportunities that empower and inspire that untapped potential. We are grateful that the SANS Institute recognizes the importance and value of a diversified workforce and partners with us to achieve that goal.”
Interested students do not need any programming or cybersecurity experience, only access to a computer and internet connection. Young women in Delaware high schools who excel in the Girls Go CyberStart game may win computers and other prizes from SANS.
“This is a phenomenal opportunity for young women to explore a high-demand career area. Since no past experience is needed, there are no barriers to keep even more of our high school students from participating,” said Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting.
SANS Director of Research Alan Paller said, “The nation desperately needs more highly skilled cyber professionals, and we have evidence that CyberStart improves the quality and preparation of people entering the cybersecurity field. Women are significantly underrepresented in the technical side of cybersecurity. By opening CyberStart to thousands of girls in high school, and to all college students, we hope to help the nation identify the next generation of talented people who will excel in this critical field.”
Male and female college students will also be able to play this year in a companion program called Cyber FastTrack, which is open for registration, with play to begin Friday, April 5. Cyber FastTrack allows students who excel in both the CyberStart game and CyberStart Essentials, an online course, to be eligible to win $2.5 million in scholarships for advanced cybersecurity training and to be introduced to employers for internships and jobs in the field.