EDUCATION

Chantilly High School Cybersecurity Camp draws girls to growing field

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According to the U.S. Department of Commerce., women in science, technology, engineering and math-related jobs earn 33 percent more than women in non-technology fields.

Yet, women remain a minority in tech-heavy industries.

Now, a computer camp in Chantilly could change that.

Jessica Miers isn't your typical computer fanatic.

"I've heard in passed interviews, 'oh you're a female, you're interested in this?'" says Miers, a Chantilly High School senior. "I just think it's kind of interesting to find that you don't have to be that person who was in the crib with the computers."

Miers is a four-year varsity tennis player, editor of the school newspaper, and now a cyber security student.

"I don't think you have to be programming since you were five years old," she says. "This is a thing where I'm a high school senior, and you can jump right into it."

She's a student at the Chantilly High School Cybersecurity Camp, a week-long crash course in tech defense. Of roughly 70 high school campers, only about a dozen are female.

"That's the time we like to influence students, make them more aware of opportunities and introduce the girls to the wonderful opportunities in the stem disciplines," says Diane Miller, Director of Operations of the Northrop Grumman Cybersecurity Group.

Today, Miers is learning about secure passwords and building a new skill set in cybersecurity.

"This is the one outlet where I've thought, 'I think this is my career path, I think this is where i want to go,'" Miers says.

Experts say the importance of cybersecurity cannot be understated. The Department of Defense, for example, gets six million unauthorized probes per day. And they say that growing threat also means a growing job market.

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