Cyber Girls First Virtually March into Blackpool!

During this term, under the Code Name: Red Panda, in 3 Blackpool Schools, 60 young women from Highfield Leadership Academy, Armfield Academy and Montgomery Academy took part in the first virtual Cyber Girls First event to learn about careers in the tech and cyber world.  

Women make up fewer than one in six of the digital work force in Lancashire. Inspiring young women and widening their recruitment talent pool is a priority for all the employers involved and the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership, part of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, who played a key role in making this event happen.   

It was a fabulous morning. A huge collective effort had gone into converting the 30+ face-to-face events countrywide that Cyber Girls First have previously run for over 3000 young women, into a virtual event. But it was worth it! The event ran like clockwork – and the complex timetable of speakers – drawing on the expertise of the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership and the Lancashire Career Hub, ensured everyone was where they had to be, all the time. Avaya were truly amazing in loaning equipment (via CGF) to the schools, sorting out tech issues and generally supporting the technical aspects of the event.  

So, who had Pat Ryan, the ingenious Founder of Cyber Girls First enlisted to virtually march into the Blackpool schools? Five of the tried and tested presenters volunteered to be pioneers for the Blackpool event plus two local businesses joined the team, thanks to BITC (Businesses in the Community). Tech Careers in Lancashire were highlighted through the impressive Mary Speakman Co-Founder of Code Galaxy and equally fabulous Tripta Kershaw & Helen Parkinson from Körber Supply Chain 

They joined fantastic role models such as Lahini Sivaganeshan from Oracle (talking about tech and bees!), Abby Taylor (Blackpool born and bred) and Farah Iqbal from Colt Technology Services, Christine Lester from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and our very own spy, the Red Panda from GCHQ!  

 “I thoroughly enjoyed the virtual event and was so glad to be involved by sharing my experience with the girls from the three Blackpool schools. Reflecting on my own time growing up in Blackpool, I think such insight from women in the industry would have been invaluable to me. The girls left the event feeling inspired and I’m honoured to have given them a glimpse of what they can do and where they can go in the future.” – Abby Taylor, Cyber Security Graduate, Colt Technology Services. 

 “Cyber Girls First plays an important role in trying to improve gender diversity in cyber security and encouraging uptake in computer science amongst girls.  

“Ensuring a diverse talent pipeline is vital in keeping the UK the safest place to live and work online, and Cyber Girls First plays a role in developing the next generation of cyber experts.”   

Patrick B, CyberFirst Education Lead, National Cyber Security Centre. 

“Cyber Girls First was fantastic, the girls who took part thoroughly enjoy the event and took away some fantastic inspirational learning. Patrick from GCHQ was a particularly highlight for the girls but all the speakers inspired the girls to ask some really interesting questions of the speakers but also of themselves!” John Hooper, Careers Lead – Highfield Leadership Academy 

Cyber Girls First, the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership and the Lancashire Careers Hub would like to warmly thank the presenters, AVAYA for providing the communication platform and the lead teachers at each of the academies without whose engagement, none of this would have happened.

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