Seminar discusses cybersecurity and tech jobs

Education, awareness and opportunity were key themes in the Digital Divas: Cyber Security in the 21st Century seminar May 23 at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center.

EMU’s School of Technological Studies Program Coordinator Skip Lawver was one of the speakers at the event. According to Lawver, only 12 percent of the technology work force is made up of women; the statistic was emphasized, to the 378 middle and high school female students who attended, throughout the conference.

The event set out to educate women about some of the dangers of their cyber activity and to convince them there are many opportunities in the technology job market.

Google employee and guest speaker Annie Sullivan caught the attention of most in attendance when she said, “I’m not allowed to say specifically, but I am paid the same as most doctors.”

It was stated time and again that lucrative careers are waiting for the attendees if they have the drive to pursue a degree in a technological field.

The students listened to guest speakers at the beginning of the event before breaking off into separate workshop groups, where they focused on many different topics regarding cybersecurity.

Topics ranging from public service announcements to cryptography were discussed in detail as the students participated and interacted with instructors. Some of the workshops were more mature, such as the dangers and repercussions of “sexting,” and were designated specifically for high school students, while other groups assembled computers from scrap parts.

Students came from schools all over southeastern Michigan to take part in the event. Invitations were sent out to districts in the general vicinity requesting the attendance of female students interested in learning about different cyber-related issues and a job field they might not have considered.

Noel Quiton, one of the event organizers and a senior at EMU, said her goals were to provide an overview of careers and relative information, and to show students the opportunities available to them.

In its second year, the Digital Divas seminar has brought a fresh approach to getting young students interested in a field that perhaps would have gone unconsidered. The seminar brought to light the need for females in technology related jobs, and the need for young women to be attentive to their online security.

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