Cyber Girls First is a small charity which creates a big impact. Spearheaded by the indomitable Pat Ryan CBE, the charity has held events for over 5,000 girls from disadvantaged communities since its inception in 2014.
Half the UK’s population are women, but the proportion of women in the IT/coding and cyber workforce is still only about 12%. This is the raison d’être of Cyber Girls First: to demystify the idea that only boys can succeed in IT. Through events at universities, corporate offices and even 10 Downing Street, girls aged 11-14 are given insights into the careers open to them and are introduced to inspirational female role models in the hope that they choose to study computer science for their GCSEs.
Nominated as one of the Most Inspiring Women in Cyber, and a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Points of Light award, Pat’s work as Director and Founder is entirely voluntary. She is ably assisted by Past Master Lady Parmley who dedicates many hours a month to the charity, and is also supported by the WCIT’s Education and Training Committee.
Furthermore, for the past three years the organisation has received a modest grant from the WCIT Charity to help cover volunteers’ travel costs. Overheads for the charity are remarkably low as there are no salaried staff and nearly all other costs are covered by their business sponsors including the likes of JPMorgan, Colt Technology, Field Fisher, LLP and ISACA Prism.
Thanks to Pat’s connections in the IT world, she is able to garner support from the top industries and continues to attract the cream of the crop to help with her quest, the latest being Jaguar Land Rover and Mastercard.
Commenting on the WCIT Charity’s grant, charity Chair Stefan Fafinski DL said: “We were particularly pleased to support the work of Cyber Girls First in inspiring girls to consider a career in IT. There is a significant underrepresentation of women in our industry, so events like these will really help to start redressing the balance.”