As a school, our values are those of truth, respect and service. Truth is sometimes confronting, and when the truth of a situation in which we are invested is not aligned with our personal values, it can be difficult to reconcile with that and identify a way to move forward and challenge existing ways of being.
The St Peter’s College students participating in the pilot SACE Stage 1 Cyber Studies course have had the opportunity to learn with and from young women attending from several other schools. For these young men, their truth is that their experience of learning in this space has been one of equality. Equal voice in the classroom, equal opportunity to participate and equality in future pathways. But that does not necessarily reflect the workforce as it stands. In 2011, women made up just 11% of the global cybersecurity workforce. By 2019, that figure was up to around 20%; progress, but not enough. In the closing weeks of the course, students focused their attention on the consideration of ethics in cyber. Fittingly, the focus for the final week was on incidences of algorithmic bias in artificial intelligence, with gender balance being just one of those biases that we might as a society hope to address in the near future; a goal best achieved through creating an inclusive and representative workforce.
Finishing the pilot with a workshop designed to champion the voices of women in the cyber industry was a highly engaging way for students to explore the theme of equality. The event saw students from five of our participating schools join together at St Peter’s College to hear from eight accomplished female industry professionals who shared their career paths as well as their views on gender disparity in a typically male-dominated field. By giving all students of the course the opportunity to reflect together on this important issue, we afforded them space to consider how to effect change and challenge the status quo. For our young men, hearing the panel members speak of the value of having supportive male allies in the workplace was a powerful message of the positive impact that they have the potential to make in the future, carrying with them the values of respect and service beyond the walls of the School.
The workshop was an incredibly rewarding experience for all involved. Many students spoke of the value of hearing wider perspectives beyond those already shared in the course and of learning that there is a hugely diverse range of pathways to enter the cyber industry. It is hugely affirming to be part of an institution that aims to serve both its own learners and the wider education community through the construction of cutting-edge contemporary curriculum which includes events such as this, and we were grateful to see the enthusiastic participation of industry partners and schools alike.
Director of Digital Innovation