Our own Laura Lee, executive vice president of rapid prototyping, recently mentored young girls at a Girl Scouts event on Wednesday, June 27, that celebrated the launch of a new cybersecurity badge program.
The program is the brainchild and joint partnership between Palo Alto Networks and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). It is a national effort aimed at eliminating traditional barriers to technology industry access, such as gender and geography. According to the Girl Scouts, the programming will target girls as young as five years old, helping ensure that even the youngest girls have a foundation primed for STEM careers.
Laura, along with a group of nine other cybersecurity industry leaders, mentored six girls at a time in a roundtable format and answered questions about cybersecurity careers. While each mentor shared their own professional journey in cybersecurity, three common themes emerged: 1) no one started out thinking they wanted to be in cybersecurity but rather fell into it; (2) cybersecurity requires curiosity, life-long learning and diversity; (3) not many women are in the field (and the girls can change that!).
Laura shared how she started out as an aerospace engineer building Missile Defense systems, a 15-year career path that prepared her for a transition into cybersecurity defense. She shared how Circadence® participates in many cybersecurity education events including the SoCal Cyber Cup, a challenge for middle and high school students, where a female won the entire competition. The story of the young girl winning such a notable competition was a strong proof point to the potential for more women to enter the cybersecurity field. The example brought an enthusiastic round of applause among the Girl Scouts.
“I told them to think broadly about cybersecurity – it isn’t just computer science. In every field (medical, law, economics), there are cybersecurity aspects, so [I said they] should learn about it no matter what [they] want to pursue,” said Laura.
The mentorship event reflected Circadence’s commitment to educate and train everyone interested or involved in cybersecurity, from aspiring professionals to seasoned experts. Further, the event was an opportunity to show the Girl Scouts how engaging and fun cybersecurity jobs can be, especially with the introduction of platforms like Circadence’s Project Ares®, a gamified teaching and training tool for cybersecurity professionals. “Being involved in this is another fundamental way to explain how a serious game [like Project Ares] can help teach concepts,” said Laura.
While Laura’s stories and insight proved invaluable to the girls, Laura left the event equally impressed with the girls’ level of engagement and interest in cybersecurity. Circadence is proud to have Laura represent the company and use her expertise to inspire and educate the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.