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CybHER Security Institute

Women in Cybersecurity

The mission of the CybHER Security Institute is to empower, motivate, educate, and change the perception of girls and women in cybersecurity by providing resources for girls from middle school to collegiate programs, and into professional careers.

CybHER allows girls and women to foster positive and encouraging relationships within the cybersecurity industry, through original and curated content. Ultimately, the goal is to increase diversity by introducing more girls to cybersecurity, who will then transition to women in collegiate programs, and highly trained professionals.

CybHER in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences at DSU

CybHER in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences are working to empower, motivate, and educate girls in cyber security!

CybHER History

CybHER was founded in 2016 by Dr. Ashley Podhradsky and Dr. Pam Rowland. As of Spring 2021, CybHER has reached over 25,000 girls with its collective efforts. One of the most notable projects is the GenCyber Girls in CybHER Security Camp. The week-long camp, supported by the National Security Agency (NSA), is the largest girls-only residential camp in the country, hosting over 125 middle school students every year.

Other outreach efforts to middle and high school female students include presentations at STEM events, social media outreach, the Aspirations Award event, parent-support events, and more.

  • 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 within the state. Provide mentoring opportunities for entrepreneurship
  • Continue to develop female faculty members through trainings, workshops, mentoring, and assisting with research efforts

K-12 Outreach

  • Develop strategies for K-12 outreach that map to the SD standards
  • Educate female students in computer-related topics
  • Recruit female students to enter the computing field, specifically within the Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences


Collegiate Student Involvement

  • CybHER Club activities - see goals below
  • Mentoring between faculty, staff, and students as well as student to student
  • Undergraduate and graduate research


Professional Women Skills Development

  • Meet-ups for professional women to support and train each other through the SD WiCyS affiliate
  • Re-entry classes are for women that have taken a sabbatical for personal reasons
  • Accelerated cybersecurity training is for women that want to learn more about cybersecurity for professional development


The Dakota State University CybHER Club is lead by collegiate students and focuses on these areas:

  • Fun and community: leading to support and encourage
  • Professional and personal growth: workshops, speakers, 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 at conferences such as Women in Cyber Security (WiCyS), National Initiative of Cybersecurity Education (NICE), and professional research conferences. We also have relationships with key organizations, such as Facebook and Google.


Pam Rowland

Assistant Professor of Computer Science & Cyber Security/Co-Coordinator, Center of Excellence/Coordinator for Master of Cyber Defense


The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences


D.Sc.IS., Dakota State University
M.S., Dakota State University
B.S., South Dakota State University


Dr. Pam Rowland is an Assistant Professor in Cyber Security at Dakota State University, Director of the CybHER Institute, Coordinator Masters Cyber Defense, and Director of the Center of Excellence in Information Systems. Her research interest focuses on social inclusion of girls in cyber security. She enjoys educating others on cyber security awareness and career opportunities.  Pam's passion is a project called CybHER(TM) which she co-founded with Dr. Ashley Podhradsky. This project focuses on empowering, motivating, educating, and changing the perception of girls and women in cybersecurity. The project has been supported by grants from the NSA, NSF, NCWIT, and the AAUW. Each summer, the NSA sponsors the GenCyber girls in CybHER security camp. This camp is a fantastic opportunity for middle school girls to explore cyber at a residential week-long camp.


Office Location: East Hall
Phone: 605-256-5037

Ashley Podhradsky

Ashley Podhradsky

Interim VP for Research & Economic Development/Associate Dean of Beacom College of Computer & Cyber Sciences/ Associate Professor of Information Assurance and Forensics


The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences


D.Sc., Dakota State University
M.S., Dakota State University
B.S., Dakota State University


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.


Office Location: MadLabs Building
Phone: 605-256-5821