Hewlett-Packard is launching a new scholarship fund to support women studying the theory and practice of cybersecurity.
Announced amid the start of the 2014 RSA Conference in San Francisco this week, the Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS) program is a joint effort, supported by HP, the Applied Computer Security Associates (ACSA), and the Computer Research Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W).
The SWSIS fund will be granting up to $250,000 to academic institutions worldwide for the purpose of curating course content about the fundamentals of IT security.
There is no preset scholarship amount per student or university. Students can be eligible for scholarships worth up to $10,000 per year, with a ceiling of $20,000 total over a two-year period. Funds will be allocated to the ACSA over a four-year period.
Scholarship winners will also have the possibility for interning at HP, although the tech giant specified that it is "not a mandatory requirement."
HP highlighted participation by the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
HP warned of a coming skills gap in the IT industry, a debate that has been brewing in the technology industry for some time. The hardware maker hinted that gap could be prevalent (if not dire) very soon, citing a recent Ponemon Institute forecast that the IT security jobs market will be 40 percent vacant in 2014.
That same survey noted that women only make up 20 percent of the information security workforce.
Art Gilliland, senior vice president and general manager of enterprise security products at HP, posited in the announcement that "the security industry has a pressing need for skilled security talent that can function fluidly in today’s environment,” adding that this new scholarship program for women in IT will "support security career growth and introduce new talent to the field."
HP also announced a few upgrades to its security portfolio on Tuesday.
HP Threat Central, a collaborative security intelligence platform, now taps into new industry partnerships with the likes of Arbor Networks, Blue Coat Systems, InQuest for filtering strategic threat intelligence feeds. Another standout is for HP Managed Security Services, which will offers more targeted threat intelligence with recommendations in reacting to attacks quicker with minimal impact.