/ News / Cyber Girls First event set to inspire Blackpool’s next generation of digital talent

Live event at the Winter Gardens will feature speakers from high-profile companies, including Microsoft, JP Morgan and GCHQ – and even a rocket scientist – to encourage girls into digital and tech careers and close the gender gap

23 Mqrch 2022

Over the past eight years, the Community Interest Company (CIC), Cyber Girls First, has set up 30 live events in England and Wales, reaching over 3,000 girls, and is today (23 March) holding a live regional event at the new Conference & Exhibition Centre at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, to inspire young women to pursue digital and tech careers.  This has been made possible by a donation from the City of London Livery Company, the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.

Over 80 female and non-binary Year 8 pupils, from schools and academies across Blackpool and Fleetwood, will take part in an interactive day of IT and cyber security activities, demonstrating how coding is instrumental in preventing and disrupting cyber-attacks. They will hear inspiring talks from technology experts from a range of organisations – including GCHQ, Microsoft, JP Morgan, Köber, Verizon, Colt Technology and Code Galaxy – who are already leaders in their respective fields. Sammy Graham, a British rocket scientist, will also appear via video link from the rocket testing site in the United States.

50% of the UK population is female, yet Cyber Girls First has found that only about 15% of the IT, coding and cyber workforce is comprised of women. The aim of today’s event is to demystify the idea that only men can succeed in these types of careers, and to emphasise the high demand for digitally skilled women within UK businesses. It is hoped that the pupils attending the event today will be encouraged to take up digital subjects when they make their GCSE choices.

Cyber Girls First co-opted the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership, part of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and the Lancashire Careers Hub through the work of Sir Andrew and Lady Parmley and Business in the Community. It follows two successful virtual events for pupils across Blackpool and Morecambe, held in the Summer and Autumn of 2021. It also comes after Debbie Francis OBE, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) recently reinforced the county’s commitment to getting more girls and women into the region’s technology workforce to close the gender gap and unlock economic opportunities for Lancashire.

Commenting on today’s event, Ann Dean, Chair of the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership, said “It’s fantastic to be working with Cyber Girls First to bring this regional in-person event to Blackpool. According to TechNation’s current Diversity & Inclusion report, only one in five of the UK’s tech workforce is female. Encouraging more girls into digital and tech careers will unlock major economic benefits for Blackpool and the County, linking the region directly to the tech sector.

“By providing our region’s young women with the opportunity to explore the vast career options available to them, and to directly engage with successful female role models already leading the way within tech, we hope to show them that a bright future in these fields is well within their reach, and that there are businesses right here in Blackpool who are doing amazing things.”

The schools taking part in the Cyber Girls First event are: Cardinal Allen and Fleetwood High (Fleetwood), St George’s School, St Mary’s Catholic Academy, Highfield School, Armfield Academy and Montgomery Academy (Blackpool).

Confirmed speakers include: Pat Ryan, Founder, CYBER GIRLS FIRST; Christie Lester, JP Morgan; Abby Taylor, Colt Technology; Tripta Kershaw, Körber; Marianne Coop, ISACA and Verizon; Mary Speakman, Code Galaxy, and Sammy Graham.

You can find out more about Cyber Girls First by visiting www.cybergirlsfirst.com

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