NATS proudly hosts CyberFirst Girls Competition

08 February 2022

Air traffic control services provider, NATS, hosted the Southeast regional final of this year’s CyberFirst Girls Competition on 5 February.

Run by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, the annual competition aims to inspire girls to consider pursuing careers in cyber security as female representation in the sector is low, with women accounting for just 16% of the UK’s cyber workforce.

On the day, the qualifying 11 teams of Year 8 girls from schools in the Southeast, battled with a series of cyber-related challenges to test their skills. Working together, they solved virtual and physical conundrums that covered cryptography, cyber security, logic and coding, in the hopes of being crowned champions.

The knowledge and skills being tested in the competition demonstrate the aptitude and expertise needed in the cyber security industry and it is hoped that some of the girls are encouraged to look at careers in this area following their involvement in the competition.

The regional winners were crowned on the day, with Tonbridge Grammar School being successful and the four girls in the team receiving laptops as part of their prize, along with an invitation to a celebration event later in the year.

Joe Dauncey, Chief Security Officer, said, “It’s a pleasure to host events such as this and it was wonderful to see the girls so excited and engaged in the challenges throughout the day. Safety is at the heart of what we do in air traffic control and cyber security is a big part of that. It’s important for large organisations, like NATS, to do all we can to provide opportunities for girls at a young age and support their interests in STEM subjects so they can develop and grow in these areas.

“We offer many early careers opportunities in STEM, such as graduate schemes and apprenticeships, which we would especially encourage young girls to consider as these areas are usually predominantly male.”

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth, said: “Congratulations to all the girls who took part in this year’s final of the CyberFirst Girls Competition in the South East – and a special well done to Tonbridge Grammar School for their success on the day.

“The UK’s growing cyber security industry needs more female representation, so it’s great to see thousands of girls nationwide taking part in the contest, many for the first time.

“I thank NATS and teachers for their work helping us uncover new cyber talent and I hope for many of the girls this will be just the start of their interest in this area.”

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