Cardiff Uni event inspires female computer coders

Last week, Cardiff University hosted a one-day event in a bid to inspire young girls to take up careers in the crucial areas of coding and cyber security.

Sixty high-school girls from all across Wales took part in the university’s technology outreach event, which aimed to promote computer coding and cyber security careers.

The event was sponsored by international law firm Baker & McKenzie and was held at the university’s computer science and informatics school.

It gave the girls a brief introduction to the history of computing and taught them how to tackle a range of coding problems. They also got the chance to meet women in IT positions.

These included female professionals working at 10 Downing Street, Cisco Academy, Symantec, BT and Raytheon. Companies also talked about global career opportunities in tech.

The ‘Cyber Ready Girls Day’ took place just a few days after Phillip Hammond, the chancellor, announced that the government will spend £1.9 billion on cyber efforts until 2020.

Experts are increasingly calling on the government to invest in efforts to get youngsters interested in pursuing technology-oriented studies and career paths, plugging the skills gap.

According to UCAS figures, in 2014 only 13 per cent of computer science students consisted of females, a drop of 14 per cent from 2010. Clearly, this is an issue that needs to be fixed.

Dyann Heward-Mills, head of data protection and cyber security at Baker McKenzie, said: “The Baker & McKenzie team are delighted to bring the Cyber Ready Girls initiative to Cardiff.

“The level of interest and support for the initiative has been fantastic. I am passionate about women having a voice in the digital era, and learning key skills such as coding and computer science will enable that.

“I am grateful to Cardiff University and all supporting partners whom, together with Baker & McKenzie, continue to strive for greater diversity and inclusion in this important field.”

Cardiff-born Pat Ryan, a retired CEO in IT who also developed the initiative, said: “Encouraging girls to enter the fascinating world of coding and cyber was an aim of mine.

“But meeting Dyann Heward-Mills was the catalyst which brought it together. I was born and raised in Cardiff, so this event is very exciting for us.”