TRENTON – Today, October 30, 2019, Governor Philip D. Murphy urged New Jersey’s high school girls 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 innovative 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 for Girls Go CyberStart opens on December 2, with online gaming commencing on January 13.
“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 to 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 New Jersey 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 Girls 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.
“The State of New Jersey is thrilled that we have been able to provide opportunities for our high school girls to explore what a career in cybersecurity entails through the Girls Go CyberStart program,” said Michael Geraghty, Director of the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell. “The feedback we have received from the girls who have participated, their teachers, and their parents has been overwhelmingly positive. As New Jersey’s Chief Information Security Officer, I can attest to the fact that the challenges presented in Girls Go CyberStart are realistic and mimic the real-life cyber challenges that cybersecurity professionals handle daily.”
Students interested in participating do not need any programming or cybersecurity experience, only access to a computer and internet connection. To help teachers and students gain confidence before the competition begins, webinars and practice resources will be available at medium.com/girls-go-cyberstart/mrsgcyberstarttips/home starting in late October.
“As we strive to fulfill Governor Murphy’s vision of creating the most diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem in the nation, we applaud programs such as Girls Go Cyberstart for encouraging high school girls to become interested and involved in this high-growth industry,” said Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. “Providing an interactive and engaging way for girls to learn about cybersecurity and explore potential careers in this field is an excellent means of cultivating the leaders of tomorrow.”
Additional details and pre-registration for the competition can be found at www.girlsgocyberstart.org.
To see the types of challenges the students will face in the games, please visit go.joincyberstart.com.
For more information, please contact NJOHSP’s Communications Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.