Hosted by Field Fisher at their impressive offices overlooking the Thames, and with the array of contacts and experience in organising similar events which Pat Ryan of CyberGirlsFirst provides, DELTAS held our first CyberGirlsFirst event for 72 girls from 7 schools on 22nd January.
For this event, we concentrated on a younger cohort – the girls’ ages ranged from 12 to 14, with the objective of capturing hearts and minds as early as possible. Women being significantly underrepresented in Tech careers (less than 20% of the total Tech workforce, and we suspect, around 10% specifically in LegalTech), our sector needs to do everything it can to ensure that girls develop and maintain their interest in STEM subjects.
And we certainly did that. All of the speakers established a sympathetic rapport with the girls, dealing with subjects such as the Oracle World Bee project (how technology and analytics help preserve bees, vital to the human food-chain), the activities of GCHQ and the NCSC in protecting us from spies, hackers and organised crime, the use of technology in No 10 Downing Street, Cyber-crime and the Met Police and how to become the Chief Scientist of McAfee Labs, as well as outlining the respective career paths’ of the presenters.
The informal feedback we received – both from the girls and their teachers and careers leads – was overwhelmingly positive (even if only going by the level of buzz in the room), and several of the schools have already requested us to do follow-up sessions at their schools (sometimes at the initiative of the girls, who want to find out more).
The formal feedback was equally encouraging. Of the 72 girls who attended, 37 completed feedback forms (some schools ran out of time, and had to leave before they could comprehensively do so). Given the age of the girls and the levels of maturity, particularly at the younger level of the age range, it can be challenging to tease out meaningful insights. Nevertheless, the conclusions we were able to reach are:
- Without exception, all the girls responded that they would recommend similar events to their friends. We interpret this as a general indicator, both that the girls found the experience valuable, and that they enjoyed the day;
- To the specific question as to how much they enjoyed the day, 89% of the girls, or 33 out of the 37 rated the day either as a 5 or a 4 (“very much”) on a scale of 1 – 5. Only 4 girls gave a neutral rating of “3” (8%), and none of them gave a rating lower than 3;
- Enjoyment is important when fostering engagement, but what impact did the day have? To a question as to how much they learnt, 36 out of the 37 responded with either a 5 or a 4 rating (97%). Most importantly, when asked whether after the event, they would consider a career in STEM, 32 or 86% of the girls responded positively.
- We refined the question further, asking specifically about the careers which DELTAS promotes (i.e. LegalTech, Security and Hybrid careers). To this question, 22 (59%) responded positively.
Some of the additional comments abundantly reinforced the DELTAS commitment to engaging with our young people, as being extremely rewarding, both for DELTAS members’ individually and for the future or our profession. To the question “what did you enjoy most about the day”, one of the responses was “I loved everything”. Other responses were varied – some enjoyed the discussion about the World Bee project most, whilst others found the personal story of the (female) CTO of No 10 Downing Street or the insight into the world of “spies” most enjoyable. This proves the value of providing a wide range of insights from a number professionals in different disciplines: It keeps the pupils fully engaged throughout the day, and provides inspiration for the vast majority of them, even though they all differ in aspirations, personalities and interests.
Article By Thereza Snyman – DELTAS Ambassador