May 28, 2024
Staff Accomplishment

Abdelhadi Selected for Women in IT Networking at Super Computing 2024

Striving to bridge the gender gap in the tech industry

Starr Abdelhadi

Starr Abdelhadi

(Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Starr Abdelhadi is a cybersecurity engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) supporting the National Security Directorate. She has spent many years defending our nation’s internet users from cybercrimes and sex trafficking as part of multiple government and independent agencies. With her broad experience and background, Abdelhadi was selected from many applicants to join the Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) program for Super Computing 2024 (SC24).

WINS is dedicated to bridging the gender gap in the IT industry, with a special focus on network engineering. Every year, WINS sponsors talented women, chosen through a rigorous selection process, to be part of the SCinet team at the conference. SCinet, a cutting-edge multi-terabit network, is custom-built annually for the SC Conference to showcase innovative participant demos.

“I feel like organizations and fellowships such as WINS really highlight the gap between not just women but also women of color in tech,” said Abdelhadi. Currently, 30 percent of the tech industry is made up of women, and only six percent are women of color.

“As a Black woman in tech, I find these types of programs and fellowships highly important and rewarding. Advocating for a diverse workforce and helping other women out there recognize that there are opportunities in tech for them is something that drives me each day,” said Abdelhadi.

The Department of Energy partly funds WINS and their efforts to close the gender gap and foster growth in diversity in this technical space. Abdelhadi finds it gratifying to be a part of an organization like PNNL that supports career growth for professionals at all levels and a diverse environment.

“When I joined PNNL, I felt like I was able to reinvent myself and tackle projects and missions within cybersecurity that spoke to me personally,” said Abdelhadi. “Fortunately, the Lab supports us in these external opportunities and, with that support, I want to come back and use what I learned to better my workplace however I can.”

Abdelhadi started her journey by advocating for victims of sexual assault before delving into a master’s program in cybersecurity, specializing in computer forensics with a strong focus on combating cybersex trafficking. During her internship at Homeland Security Investigations, she actively contributed to cybercrime cases related to child exploitation and trafficking.

Currently at PNNL, her expertise lies in threat hunting and digital forensics within Industrial Control Systems and the Internet of Things. Additionally, she is dedicated to mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds, showcasing her passion for empowering the next generation.

“It’s something my dad taught me from a young ageit’s not just about being successful and sitting in success, it’s about helping and guiding others so that they can shine when their time comes,” said Abdelhadi.