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University of Bradford Hosts GCHQ Cyber First Girl's Development Day


The University of Bradford recently opened its doors to over 120 female secondary school students from regional institutions for a unique Cyber Security event. In collaboration with GCHQ, the hosted a female focused development day, exploring possibilities for women within Cyber Security and Computer Science. Containing a variety of engaging activity sessions, insightful guest speakers from the industry and the chance to be part of a nation-wide competition, the day was enjoyed by students and teachers alike, widening their perspectives. ceremonies in July.

Guest speakers Melanie Oldham (Directing Manager of Bob's Business) and Charlotte Knill (Security Risk Management Ltd.) were great examples of successful and high profile women in the sector for the students, and of what a career in Cyber Security and Computer Science can lead to. Girls are fiercely under-represented at all levels of the Computer Science and Cyber Security industries, despite having all the skills and qualities that are needed to be successful. Both GCHQ and the University of Bradford feel strongly about this lack in gender balance, creating the event as an attempt to address this skills gap and bring awareness to girls just how different careers in the sector are from what stereotypes portray.

Chris Ensor from GCHQ said:

"We want to develop a diverse, continuous flow of young people with the right skills and knowledge to help protect the UK against future cyber-attacks. The reality is that our nation's Cyber Security will become even more important as technology develops and the internet becomes all pervasive. It makes perfect sense that we look to inspire a generation of young women who are seeking a rewarding and exciting career, and the development day at the University of Bradford provided a fantastic venue to showcase the variety of career opportunities for women in cyber."

The University of Bradford's 50:50 Campaign is setting out to also tackle the gender gap issues within the sector. Enthusiasm and creativity are just two of the attributes needed to study Computer Science and Bradford believes women have these in abundance. Aiming to be the first university to see true gender equality in Computer Science, the 50:50 Campaign wants to raise awareness that Computer Science is accessible to all at the University of Bradford and can be studied at degree level by anyone with the right UCAS points.

Lecturers in Computer Science and leaders of the 50:50 Campaign, Dr Andrea Cullen and Lorna Armitage, oversaw the development day and said:

"This hosted event was the first of many more we have planned to help girls realise their potential in this area. It was fantastic to witness how the girls' confidence grew as they worked through the various activities, and great to see the girls realising how creative and innovative Computer Science is. At the University of Bradford we are committed to the 50:50 Campaign to help ensure there is true gender balance within Computer Science and endeavour to make an impact on this global shortfall".

Photographs of some of the girls at the event.

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