Girls Go CyberStart Competition Kicks Off Next Week

Feb 13, 2018

A multi-state effort aimed at getting more women in the cybersecurity career pipeline comes to the web this month.

High school girls from 16 states will participate in the six-day Girls Go CyberStart program starting next week. It’s an online series of challenges to test a participant’s interest and potential in the cybersecurity field, and includes activities around web attacks, programming, and computer forensics.

Last summer the group behind Girls Go CyberStart, SANS Institute, offered a similar program to all high schoolers and college kids in a handful of states, but only around 7 percent of those were women.

SANS Institute Director of Research Alan Paller says from his experience, women are some of the best in the cyber security field, but the industry has faced problems finding enough people to specialize in cybersecurity.

“And to have a pipeline that is overbalanced toward men is stupid,” Paller says.

Paller added that this attempt to combat a male-dominated pipeline seems to already have achieved some level of success, with registration numbers far exceeding those of last year’s CyberStart program.

“We’ll have more girls in high school in this program, than we had girls and boys from high school and college in the summer,” Paller says.

Girls in high school can sign up to participate alone or in teams of up to four people, with an adult advisor at their school. While the competition is live, they can work as often or little as they’d like on the challenges, but there is incentive to do more. The best scoring team in the state will win $1,500 for their school.

Registration ends Friday Feb. 16.