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  • Digital resource pack developed to inspire girls to study and choose careers in computer science
  • Online resources can be accessed by pupils and teachers from home during lockdown
  • More talented graduates needed for cybersecurity sector

Aston University is working with schools across Birmingham to inspire female pupils to take up careers in cybersecurity and in the wider digital economy and to challenge the stereotype that technology subjects are just for boys.

When a planned on-campus event involving speakers from a range of organisations including GCHQ and 10 Downing Street had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Aston Business School’s professor of cybersecurity management, Vladlena Benson, worked with Aston University’s student recruitment and outreach team to develop a set of digital educational resources for Cyber Girls First which pupils and teachers are able to access from home.

The Cyber Girls First initiative was the brainchild of Pat Ryan OBE. Her aim was to improve the number of girls wanting to choose STEM subjects at GCSE and A-level. It has since grown into a not-for-profit community interest company, which works to promote the importance of getting more girls into the technology and coding industry.

The online resource includes fun activities to engage 11 to 14 year-old girls in Years 7, 8 and 9, while they are away from the classroom during lockdown, as well as giving them a valuable insight into jobs in cyber, data science and e-business and inspirational careers advice from senior women in the STEM fields.

It also includes a competition for which pupils are being asked to design a poster which gives a solution to a real life problem that can be fixed using cybersecurity methods.

The digital pack is being distributed to 20 schools in Birmingham and is expected to reach up to 700 pupils. Winning entries will be revealed during a live online question and answer session on Monday 29 June.

Professor Vladlena Benson, Aston University said: “Cybersecurity is increasingly important as work and social practices have moved online during the pandemic. Having a diverse workforce is very important as cybersecurity solutions must work effectively for all.

“We are engaging with girls aged 11 to 14 from local schools because we hope to inspire them before they reach the age when they have to choose their two year GCSE courses.

“We were naturally disappointed that we had to cancel the original event, but with the development of the digital resource packs we are able to reach a far wider audience and encourage more girls to think about cyber careers. More talented graduates from a variety of disciplines, from business to data science, are needed in this thriving sector.”


Notes to editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

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