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USW leading the way on women in cyber

The University of South Wales (USW) is leading the way in increasing the number of women in cyber security.

According the Government-run National Cyber Security Centre, only 11% of the global cyber security workforce are women.

USW is beating the average, however, with women making up a quarter of the university’s cyber security lecturing team.

Rachael Medhurst, 27, who returned to the university as its cyber security team expanded, has a Computer Forensics degree and masters in Digital Forensics from USW, while Elaine Haigh, a mum of six, worked as an analyst/developer in the utilities industry and was a further education lecturer before joining USW.  She has a degree in Computer Security and a Masters in Advanced Information Systems.

Mum-of-three Emma Derbi, 44, took a less traditional route into the role, having spent two decades working in a fast food restaurant. She was one of the first graduates of USW’s National Cyber Security Academy in 2018, and took up the lecturing post after completing her degree in Computer Forensics.

Clare Johnson, Head of Cyber at USW, said that the three female cyber lecturers could be perfect role models for girls who may want a career in the industry.

“While we choose our lecturers on their ability, not their gender, it’s important to be able to show all potential students that those working in the sector come are from all backgrounds and are not what some people might see as the stereotype,” she said.

“There is a low uptake of girls in STEM subjects. Only 1% of A-level computing students are girls, with a similar percentage studying for a degree in computer science.

“This means there could be a massive pool of hidden talent that the cyber industry could tap into if we could just get the message to more girls that the sector is booming and great place to build a successful career.”