Aston University encourages local schoolgirls to consider careers in cybersecurity

One hundred female Year 8 student from Birmingham schools took part in an ‘explorer day’ organised by the Cyber Security Innovation (CSI) Centre at Aston Business School.

The Cyber girls event is part of the Cyber Kali project, for which a team of academics at Aston and Warwick Universities have been awarded funding by the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The CSI Centre at Aston University has a sustained record of engaging with schools in Birmingham through educational events in cybersecurity since the pandemic.

The event brought together role models from the industry and local government, including Vickie C (senior cyber consultant, CGI), Daljinder Mattu (senior policy advisor, Department for Science Information and Technology) and CyberWomen@Warwick representatives. UK Cyber Security Council CEO, Simon Hepburn, also shared his career journey into cybersecurity and the opportunities the sector offers.

Dr Anitha Chinnaswamy and Professor Vladlena Benson led the project from the CSI, which was funded by the NCSC’s Academic Centres of Excellence programme.

There were interactive workshops emphasising the importance of online safety, cyber-hacking, and how to protect oneself from online threats. The Gadget Guru Competition provided an avenue for the students to showcase their creativity and inventiveness. The day concluded with an award ceremony that recognised the competition winners for their exceptional efforts.

Dr Chinnaswamy said: “We would like to thank all who contributed to making ‘Cyber Kali Explorer Day’ a triumph, and we are confident that our efforts will bear fruit in the future.

“It is our responsibility to continue nurturing these bright young minds, providing them with the tools they need to succeed, and supporting them as they embark on their unique journeys.

“Our goal goes beyond this project, we work towards every opportunity inspire and empower the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, especially young women, to pursue their dreams and explore a field that has traditionally been male-dominated.”

Professor Helen Higson also supported the event and said: “I am proud of the ongoing work of the CSI Centre, which continues to support the objectives of the National Cyber Strategy 2022.

“At Aston University, we recognise the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion, and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is an integral part of our agenda.”

Professor Zoe Radnor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences at Aston University, said: “Through our Cyber Security Innovation Centre and other initiatives, we aim to create opportunities for all individuals, regardless of their background or identity, to excel in the field of cybersecurity and contribute to building a safer and more secure digital world.”