To help educate more young women about the opportunities in the field of cybersecurity, Governor Paul R. LePage, the Maine Office of Information Technology and the Maine Department of Education are promoting ‘GirlsGoCyberStart’, an exciting national program that uses online games of discovery to introduce high school girls to the field.
“This innovative program offers young women in high school an opportunity to discover their aptitude and learn basic cybersecurity skills,” said Robert G. Hasson, Jr. Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field of information security is projected to grow 28 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
CyberStart was created by a national company called the SANS Institute, and first piloted to youth in the summer of 2017. The program enabled 3,500 students nation-wide to discover and demonstrate their aptitude for cybersecurity, yet only five percent of the students who participated were young women. The results of the pilot sparked the GirlsGoCyberStart program, specifically designed to interest young women in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12.
“We are excited to join this wonderful opportunity to expand our talent pipeline by engaging young people interested in learning more about cybersecurity and directing them to the appropriate training and career coaching,” said James Smith, Chief Information Officer for the Office of Information Technology.
Maine students who participate in GirlsGoCyberStart will be doing so alongside students from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming and American Samoa.
Participating students do not need prior cybersecurity knowledge or programming experience. All that is required is a computer and an internet connection. Young women in high school who excel in the GirlsGoCyberStart game will have the opportunity to win computers and other prizes as well as a trip, with a parent, to the 2018 Women in CyberSecurity Conference.
The website explaining the program is available at GirlsGoCyberStart.com. Registration will begin on January 29 and end on February 16, 2018. The first 10,000 young women in high school who have registered by then, can play the game online from February 20 through February 25.
For more information about eligibility visit GirlsGoCyberStart.com and for more information about Maine’s participation in the program contact Dr. Kelly Rickert, Director of Workforce Development for the Maine Office of Information Services.