SANS Institute has launched a national cybersecurity program designed specifically for high school girls to encourage more females into the industry and to reduce the national cyber skills gap.

The Girls-only cybersecurity program, Girls Go CyberStart, is the result of a partnership between 27 state governors and SANS Institute. Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.

Girls who want to participate in the free program do not need any experience in gaming or computer science, but must be at least 13 years old and enrolled in 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade at a public or private school (or the homeschool equivalent) in a participating state.

There are three stages in Girls Go CyberStart. Each stage features a series of digital challenges that introduce participants to important concepts in the field of cybersecurity, according to the release.

The first stage consists of a series of questions that measure existing knowledge, problem-solving skills and the potential for a career in cybersecurity. The second stage involves learning techniques to take on real world challenges such as cracking codes and finding security flaws. The final stage is for the best performing teams from each state who will compete in a national online ‘Capture the Flag’ competition.

More information can be found here.