Moms Making Waves: She Teaches Kids How To Be Cyber Smart

Liz Joyce is teaching kids how to navigate technology in a smart and safe way

By Joyce Shulman March 5, 2019

Who she is:

Liz Joyce is a mom of two, the vice president and chief information security officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and one of the most prominent voices in global cybersecurity, a field typically dominated by men. 

How she's making waves:

Liz fights bad guys in cyberspace and partners with the Girl Scouts Nation's Capital -- an umbrella group for thousands of Girl Scout troops in the Washington D.C. area -- to educate Girl Scout Juniors (girls ages 9 to 11) about digital security and spark their interest in STEM.

How she does it:

A Hewlett Packard Enterprise team, led by Liz, created Cyber Squad, an interactive online game that teaches children cybersecurity literacy via an interactive, narrative format that takes players through real-life scenarios and simulates the consequences of both risky and safe online behaviors. Hewlett Packard Enterprise worked with Romero Games to develop Cyber Squad.

Why she waded in:

Because kids are getting savvier with technology earlier and earlier.

"We live in a very connected world, where the average age when kids get their first digital device is 10, and by 11 many are on social media," she says.

Why turn internet safety into a game?

“It made sense to us to teach girls about technology with technology and perhaps spark their interest in STEM,” she says. Only 29 percent of the workforce in STEM fields are women, while just 20 percent of the cybersecurity workforce in the United States are women. 

The ah-ha moment:  

Liz spent her work days evaluating global security risks and would then come home to see her kids’ ever-increasing interest in technology. 

“I realized that we teach our kids how to cross a street safely," she says. "Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to navigate technology safely?”

How serendipity played a part:

“The wife of a member of my team was a Girl Scouts troop leader who asked if I could help develop a plan to educate the girls on basic cybersecurity," says Liz, also the mother of a Girl Scout. "That conversation morphed into the creation of Cyber Squad.” 

Girl Scouts who complete the program and game receive a patch to display on their uniforms certifying their cybersecurity knowledge.

On “those days":

Liz sees a lot of bad actors from her spot deep in the trenches of cybersecurity every day. 

“But two things keep me going," she says. "The passion and energy of my team and the way my kids learn and conquer challenges every day. Both of those things remind me that no challenge is insurmountable.”

What’s next?

Liz has plans to bring Cyber Squad to more girls and in more formats – and even making it go international.

Like this story? Read about other Moms Making Waves:
Angela Patton
Molly MacDonald
Lori Madrid