Inspiring the next generation of female spies!


STEMCyber Event - Bletchley Park By Kathryn Hurcomb | 21 October 2015

Girls from schools around the UK descended on The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park on 16th October for the TNMOC & Cyber Security Challenge UK STEMCyber Girls Day.

With plenty of inspirational speakers and activities on the agenda this event was geared up to inspire the next generation of Cyber Security professionals and to expand the female demographics within.

Sally from GCHQ and Larissa Chase, Deputy Head of IT at 10 Downing Street were the keynote speakers. Key messages from both were that they are enjoying amazing careers but that females within the industry are still few and far between. Explaining how they achieved their positions it was clear that anyone with the determination can gain the same careers. It was also interesting to hear what inspired them to work in the areas that they do, and as well as a lot of chance involved, Larissa explained that her father had also been influential. Interestingly this was also reflected in an earlier conversation with a female Design Engineer attending the event who explained that her brother had inspired her by saying “if he could do it then so could she”. She is now designing cars including one used in the most recent Bond film!

Speaking later in the day with the students their enthusiasm to get into IT as a career shone through, however there was a definite lack of clarity as to how they can get into the industry as well as some of the options available to them – although they were very aware of hacking some had not heard of digital forensic investigations for example. There was also a strong interest in Apprenticeships and examples of how this was working effectively was demonstrated through Apprentices attending from the industry.

Discussion of how females working within the IT industry, and sometimes the lack of support for taking time out to raise families, was raised a couple of times throughout the day, specifically the demand to re-train when going back to work. The natural fast-moving pace of IT is likely to be what steers this need however the industry may have to take this into consideration if it is taking an active role in inspiring females into joining it.

But perhaps the most striking question from the students was “how do I become a spy”; the answer to which was kept a closely guarded secret!

Girls from schools around the UK descended on The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park on 16th October for the TNMOC & Cyber Security Challenge UK STEMCyber Girls Day.

"Sally from GCHQ and Larissa Chase, Deputy Head of IT at 10 Downing Street were the keynote speakers. Key messages from both were that they are enjoying amazing careers but that females within the industry are still few and far between."

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