On Friday 17th November a group of year 9 girls visited Cardiff University School of Computer Science and informatics for their Cyber Girls First Day. The event is directed at girls who enjoy ICT to promote future study of Computer Science. They were given an insight into the career opportunities available in programming and cyber security.

Only 12% of jobs in STEM (Science including Computer Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) subjects are filled by women, yet they constitute 51% of the population, so there are huge opportunities for girls right now.

The day included a variety of presentations and activities. Speakers from GCHQ Cheltenham and the National Cyber Security Centre (who led the fight to defeat the ransomware virus when the NHS was hacked) explained how all types of people are needed in cyber security, and women often have the specific skills needed. Speakers from CISCO, whose networks carry more than 80% of the world’s telecommunications traffic, described the opportunities for girls in computer science careers, explaining that the gender pay gap evident in most careers isn’t an issue in the computing industry but less than 10% of computer science students are women.

Our Brynteg Cyber Girls worked through a practical activity in one of Cardiff University’s huge computer suites, where they coded an encryption program in a language called Python, and were able to encrypt and de-encrypt messages to each other.

The day ended with the girls being presented with a goody bag with lots of things, including a t-shirt and their own Rasberry Pi computer! Back in school we plan to run further events where these girls and others will be able to program the Rasberry Pi’s and other computer science activities. All our year 9 pupils will develop their programming skills in their ICT lessons this year.