Dr. Podhradsky reflected that her interest in computer science started in high school when a network administrator taught her about topics of computer science. After finishing her bachelor’s degree, she worked as a cybersecurity administrator for a private company. In the process of investigating a cybersecurity issue, she discovered the field of digital forensics, which inspired her to return to school to complete her doctoral degree in Information Assurance. Throughout her professional and academic experience, Dr. Podhradsky recognized that there was more opportunity to engage young girls and women in the field. To help inspire girls and to provide mentors, she co-founded CybHER, a program that is dedicated to introducing middle school girls to cybersecurity.
Additionally, Dr. Podhradsky is an IF/THEN Ambassador. The program has a motto that “If she can see it then she can be it.” The initiative attempts to provide young girls with visual representations of women in the computer science field. She made a comparison to a young boy who can see role models and examples of firefighters. She expressed that hopefully through the program, young girls will be able to see role models in fields in which women have been traditionally underrepresented.
Rex Academy can partner alongside the goal of introducing girls to cybersecurity and computer science. Dr. Podhradsky’s CybHER program helps to change young girls’ perspectives of the field of cyber security. The program utilizes hands-on activities to teach them about the field. Rex Academy is another resource that can provide young girls with the opportunity to learn computer science basics and explore the field of cyber security. The curriculum by Rex Academy has been designed so that students can learn and explore the topics and skills even without a computer science expert in the room. By providing young girls with the opportunity to learn about the field of cyber security and computer science along with visualizing successful women in the field, programs like Rex Academy and CybHER can prepare the next generation of women for computer science careers.