Girls show their cyber skills to reach finals challenge

Young women are answering the call for cyber security experts of the future as efforts to address the present gender imbalance bear fruit with record number of participants in GCHQ led competition.

To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has today announced in excess of a 110% increase in the number of schools taking part in their CyberFirst Girls competition.

Following the recent announcement that girls only courses will be launched this summer, 11,802 schoolgirls aged between 12-13 have participated in the competition – a 162% increase compared to last year’s edition.

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Skills and Growth, said:

“Throughout the three editions of the CyberFirst Girls competition we have seen how positively the teams react to the challenges we set them and really engage with the competition.

“The increase in participants is fantastic to see and we’re looking forward to crowning our winners in Edinburgh.”

Chelmsford County High School for Girls from the East of England is one of the Top 10 finalists who will be moving forward to Edinburgh’s face-to-face final in March with the remaining 9 being:

  • Watford Grammar School for Girls
  • Beverley High school, East Riding, Yorkshire
  • Oxford High School GDST
  • Denmark Road, Gloucester
  • Tiffin Girls School, London
  • St Catherine’s School, Armagh
  • Withington Girls School, Manchester
  • Queens School, Chester
  • Royal Masonic School for Girls, Hertfordshire

Digital and Creative Industries Minister Margot James said:

“It’s great to see that so many young women are keen to get into the cyber industry with record numbers applying to the CyberFirst Girls competition.

“Through our initial cyber security skills strategy we are not only improving our capability in cyber but also boosting the skills of young people and creating a more diverse workforce.”

As an added incentive for all competitors, the NCSC will be offering around 600 free places on specially commissioned four day CyberFirst Defenders courses in April and May 2019. These courses will be ‘all girls’ and a mix of residential and non-residential at locations across the UK.

Over the past three years, over 24,000 girls in schools across the UK have participated in the NCSC’s CyberFirst Girls competition of problem-solving and code cracking challenges to crown the UK’s most cyber-capable young women.

“Our students have developed a keen interest in coding and cyber security and out of 3,389 teams we entered 32 to the CyberFirst Girls competition with one of our teams reaching the top 10 once again this year.  They are only in Year 8, which bodes well for Computing in the future.  We wish them great enjoyment and success in Edinburgh.”  Nicole Chapman, Headteacher, Chelmsford County High School for Girls.

Further information regarding the CyberFirst Girls competition can be found here: https://www.cyberfirst.ncsc.gov.uk/