CybHER Institute

CybHER Security Institute (Women in Cyber Security)

The mission of CybHER is to empower, motivate, educate, and change the perception of girls and women in cybersecurity. By providing resources for girls from middle school through collegiate programs and into professional careers, CybHER will allow women to foster positive and encouraging relationships within this industry through original and curated content that educates and motivates women. Ultimately, our goal is to increase diversity by introducing more girls to cybersecurity, who will then transition to women in collegiate programs, and finally highly trained professionals.

The CybHER Institute seeks to:

  • Increase knowledge of cybersecurity in K-12 settings.
  • Mentor female collegiate students in personal and professional development.
  • Conduct cutting-edge research focused on growing the female population in computing, as well as supporting undergraduate and graduate student research related to technology issues and trends.
  • Assist women at a collegiate and professional level to network within the state of SD and to be aware of opportunities in the state. Provide mentoring opportunities for entrepreneurship.
  • Continue develop female faculty members through trainings, workshops, mentoring, and assisting with research efforts.



  1.  K-12 Outreach
    • Develop Strategies for K-12 Outreach
    • Educate female students in computer-related topics
    • Recruit female students to enter the computing field, and specifically the Beacom College of Computing and Cyber Sciences.
  2. Collegiate Student Involvement
    • CybHER Club activities
    • Mentoring between faculty/staff and students as well as student/student
    • Undergraduate and graduate research
  3. Professional Women skills development
    • Meet-ups – female professional women supporting and training each other
    • Re-entry classes – for women that have taken a sabbatical for personal reasons
    • Accelerated cybersecurity training for women that want to learn more about cybersecurity for professional development


CybHER was formally created in the summer of 2016, even though activities supporting CybHER have been conducted for several years.  Our passion for increasing representation in cybersecurity started more than five years ago.

K-12 Outreach

To date, we have reached over 14,000 girls with our collective efforts. One of the most notable projects of CybHER is our GenCyber Girls in CybHER Security Camp. The week-long camp, which is supported by the NSA, is the largest girls-only residential camp in the country.   The inaugural camp was in July 2015, and each summer the camp has hosted over 125 middle school students.  Other outreach efforts to middle school and high school female students include presentation at STEM events, social media outreach, Aspirations award event, parent-support events, and more.

CybHER Themes for K-12

  1. CybHER Seconds: Constant connections lead to lasting impacts.
    • Social media connections
  2. CybHER Minutes: Knowledge and practice leads to confidence and self-efficacy.
    • Short educational videos on cybersecurity topics
  3. CybHER Hours: Inspiration leads to motivation and independent exploration.
    • Motivational videos by leading women
  4. CybHER Days: Community supports a strong identity, and collaborative problem solving gives purpose.
    • Day-long learning and community
  5. CybHER Together: Supportive and engaged guardians lead to positive and long-lasting influence.
    • Guardian and child learning activities
  6. CybHER Camp: Living in community and learning together develops an anchor in the field.
    • Week-long camps


The CybHER club was started Fall 2016.  The club is focused on collegiate female students developing in these focus areas:

  • Fun and community - leading to a support and encouragement
  • Professional and personal growth -  workshops, speakers, and learning opportunities
  • Outreach and service - allowing students to serve and mentor others
  • Networking – growing a network of professional contacts and support


CybHER has focused on building professional relationships across the nation.  This has been done through attendance to conferences such as WiCyS (Women in Cyber Security), NICE (National Initiative of Cybersecurity Education), and professional research conferences.  We have also formed relationships with key organizations such as Facebook and Google.  The founders of CybHER have had the opportunity to speak at multiple conferences and workshops.  


Dr, Pam RowlandDr. Pam Rowland

Pam Rowland is an Assistant Professor at Dakota State University in Cyber Security, Director of the CybHER MadLabs, and Director of the Center of Excellence for Information Systems. Pam’s area of research focuses on recruitment and retention of women in cybersecurity. Pam is the Co-PI for the GenCyber: Girls in CybHER Security Camp grant sponsored by the NSA and NSF. The grant allows middle school girls to attend a weeklong residential camp allowing girls to explore an interest in cybersecurity through learning about programming, networking, and security. Pam is passionate about encouraging girls to explore education and careers in cyber.

Dr. Ashley PodhradskyDr. Ashley Podhradsky

Dr. Ashley Podhradsky is an Associate Professor of Digital Forensics and Associate Dean of the Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences at Dakota State University. Ashley is also a member of the First Bank and Trust Board of Directors. Ashley has been an invited speaker at several events and universities including The Pennsylvania State University, Bureau of Justice Affairs, Women in CyberSecurity, InfraGard and DePaul University among others. Her research teams have received over 5.3 M in competitive grants. Current awards include an NSF REU site, NSF NRT program and NSA GenCyber. In addition to her academic and professional work, she has a strong passion for increasing gender diversity in cybersecurity. She is the PI and Camp Director for GenCyber: Girls in CybHER Security, a program sponsored by the NSA. Ashley was the recipient of the EmBe 2017 “Young Woman of Achievement”, The 2017 Merrill Hunter Award for Excellence in Research, 2017 and 2018 New America Cybersecurity Fellow, and is a 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science IF/THEN Ambassador.