New Jersey high school girls were this week urged by NJ Governor Phil Murphy to participate in the 2020 Girls Go CyberStart challenge, a skills-based competition designed to encourage high school girls to pursue cyber-based learning and career opportunities. This innnovative program created by the SANS Institute inspires the next generation of cybersecurity professionals and recognizes talented youth in New Jersey through a series of online challenges and puzzles. Registration of Girls Go CyberStart opens on Dec. 2, with online gaming commencing on Jan. 13, 2020.
"Competitions like Girls Go CyberStart have a profound impact on the participation of girls in the cybersecurity field," said Governor Murphy. "As we strengthen New Jersey's industries through recruitment of talent, we must ensure those industries reflect the diversity and inclusivity of the state. Representation matters, and this program is an excellent example of how we can provide underrepresented groups an entryway to a world of career possibilities."
Girls Go CyberStart is open to all female students in grades nine through 12, regardless of prior experience or knowledge of cybersecurity. It comes at no cost to the students or schools. Participants solve challenges to advance through levels, earning prizes along the way. In addition to individual prizes, the three New Jersey schools with the most participants win monetary prizes. High schools where at least five girls master five or more Girls Go CyberStart challenges will win licenses to the CyberStart Game that extends the opportunity for additional male and female students.
"There is a growing need for cybersecurity professionals in both the public and private sectors. The cyber threats we face are persistent and evolving at a quick pace," said Jared M. Maples, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, which is responsible for cybersecurity in the State through the NJ Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell.
"By affording these students continued exposure to career opportunities available in the cybersecurity field, we can inspire their pursuit of becoming our next defenders against cyber-related threats."
Last year's Go CyberStart competition included 1,154 girls from 102 New Jersey high schools. Additionally, 21 New Jersey girls had individual high scores that qualified them for $500 college scholarships. New Jersey's goal for the 2020 Girls Go CyberStart competition is to increase those numbers even more.