High School Girls Hack into Male-Dominated Cybersecurity Industry

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Fifteen-year-old Darby Olex-Memoli has never known a world without the Internet.

In her earliest memories, she played games like "Putt Putt Saves the Zoo" on the Internet. At age 12 she created her Facebook profile. By 13 she had her own laptop, and as a freshman in high school she took classes in building hardware and programming.

“For my generation, computer languages are like a second language,” she said.

To Olex-Memoli, it only makes sense to prepare for a job in the computer technology industry.

But for many young women, that can be difficult. According to Olex-Memoli, there are usually only two or three girls in her computer classes. She says the stereotype is that boys should do stuff like learning programming and girls should study English.

But the teen won’t be pigeonholed.

“I am a leader,” she said. “Women are smart enough to be in this field, too.”

And that is why Olex-Memoli and a group of female students from Red Bank Regional High School in New Jersey traveled two-and-a-half hours to sit at a table in Downtown Brooklyn and participate in NYU-Poly’s annual "hack-a-thon" competition.

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