(Photo by Flickr user @timmenzies, used under a Creative Commons license)
Victoria Lentz sometimes looks around her classes to find she’s the only woman around.
“I’ve had several classes where I’m actually the only girl in the class out of 30 or 40 students,” she said.
Lentz is a cybersecurity student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, entering a field that’s 90 percent male, according to statistics published by the American Society for Engineering Education.
Earlier this month, Lentz became an even rarer breed, winning one of 11 scholarships from Hewlett-Packard and the Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security. But when she got the word from organizers, she thought they were pulling her leg.
“It’s kind of funny, because [it was] just an email I had gotten late in the evening,” Lentz said. “I was really surprised because it was kind of random.”
It was no joke. Lentz, an Ellicott City resident and rising UMBC senior, is part of the university’s Cyber Scholars Program, which launched last fall.
“I’m a computer science major and my first two years at school, I was still trying to figure out what area of computer science I really wanted to study, and our school was talking a bit more about cybersecurity,” she said. The introduction of the Cyber Scholars Program helped her decide that was the area she wanted to focus on.
She said the scholarship draws attention to the need for diversity in the field, and not just the gender gap.
“I feel like something real important is to get that diversity, not just gender but ethnicity,” she said.
Lentz said that after her graduation next spring, she plans to pursue part-time studies toward a master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University or UMBC.