More than 700 students from across the region were invited to CyberFirst Empower North West, a series of events which aim to encourage Year 8 girls to pursue a career in technology.
The first two events took place at Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park and Salford’s AJ Bell Stadium earlier this month, where the girls had the opportunity to meet those working at the forefront of cyber security and technology including IBM, KPMG UK, GCHQ, Phoenix, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman and BT.
The sessions were delivered by Lancashire-based IN4 Group, operators of HOST, the Home of Skills and Technology.
The Empower events are part of CyberFirst Schools & Colleges – an initiative from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is a part of GCHQ, that aims to encourage a diverse range of young people to pursue careers in the cyber sector.
A major objective of the scheme is to encourage girls to take an interest in technology during their school years.
It aims to engage more than 500 schools from across the region in the next two years.
The first two Empower North West events saw students engage in a series of interactive sessions, live demos, hackathons and competitions – as well as a codebreaking challenge run by GCHQ.
Students met up with Jasmine Taylor, cyber defence manager at KPMG UK, and Nicola Meek, education lead at Microsoft.
Jasmine’s said: “I got here completely by accident. I knew I was interested in science, but I was equally interested in singing and dancing.
"I had no idea that jobs like mine existed. Choosing what subjects to study for your GCSEs is a big decision, but I would urge you to be curious and think about what interests you.
"Keep your options open and research anything that you find interesting.”
Nicola Meek added: ‘We need more girls at the table – and more young people.’’