The UK’s largest non-profit cybersecurity cluster, CyNam, has joined forces with Tesco and Sage to bring together 1300 Year 8 school girls from the South West and North East in the UK’s largest ever movement to inspire more girls into cyber

Women currently only account for 11% of the global cyber workforce, and just 8% in the UK. With the support of Tesco and FTSE100 software giant Sage, #EmPowerCyber will shift the hearts and minds of a generation of potential recruits and change the current perception of cyber as a male dominated career.

In an push to reshape this statistic, today 1000 girls from 25 schools in the South West, and last Wednesday 300 girls from 10 schools in the North East experienced a fully immersive hands-on workshop style activity day with 20 of the UK’s top cyber specialists.  

Inspiring girls into cyber

Those providing this taster include government security experts and global enterprise IT and cybersecurity leaders from brands such as Greggs and BT. 

Students are meeting in locations within their respective regions, with the South West EmPowerCyber event taking place nearby the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham in partnership with GFirst LEP, InfoSec People Ltd. 

“Our students will experience interactive, enriching and empowering workshops lead by key industries and academia”

Both events are staged by CyNam, a community impact organisation with a purpose to drive innovation in the technology sector, and other event partners include Raytheon and the Careers Enterprise Company (CEC). 

Emma Williams, Assistant Principal Academic at Wyedean School in Gloucestershire, tells us, “We’re delighted to be able to offer our students the chance to be part of the EmPowerCyber event as it challenges the cyber career stereotypes and inspires the next generation of young women to consider careers in STEM or cybersecurity. Our students will experience interactive, enriching and empowering workshops lead by key industries and academia, learning first hand the critical skills that are needed for the future.

“Industry role models inspire our young women to think bigger as, after all, ‘seeing is believing.’ The cyber and STEM role models at the event will encourage our students to be more ambitious and to consider careers that they have never been exposed to.”  

The South West is home to one of the largest cyber hubs in the UK.  A £1 billion Golden Valley Development in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, which is due to be completed by 2025, will include a 150,000 sq. Ft. National Cyber Innovation Centre. 

“Cyber skills have never been so much in demand as the talent shortage continues to grow”

Ben Aung, Chief Risk Officer at Sage says, “At Sage, we are committed to knocking down barriers so everyone can thrive and so I am thrilled that we have sponsored EmPowerCyber. We are passionate about motivating and inspiring girls and women into careers in cyber security and this event is a fantastic example of how we can make a difference from school age onwards by making careers in tech and cyber security accessible. There’s nothing dull about STEM subjects, problem-solving and being fascinated by the limitless potential of technology.   

“Everyone can achieve great things in the field of cyber security and we are determined to make it happen. EmPowerCyber is a great example of how we can work with other businesses and organisations to do this.”  

Madeline Howard (pictured right), Chair and Director of CyNam and organiser of EmPowerCyber, adds, “There are so many career opportunities for both men and women in cyber. Cyber skills have never been so much in demand as the talent shortage continues to grow. Yet we’re still seeing fewer women coming through the sector, despite it being well paid, one of the most flexible to work in, and offering a real variety of career options. So CyNam is on a mission to capture the imagination of every young person and educate them on the opportunities in the sector. 

“We’re amazed at the level of response we got from teachers and industry, and we’d like to keep repeating this success in other regions. Events like these are vital to bring together the cyber community and to make a difference to the future of young lives as well as continuously nurture the talent we need to safeguard the future security of our nation.”   

Headshot of Madeline Howard, she is stood in an office. She is wearing glasses and has long light brown / blonde hair