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Felix Koltermann

Role models and dreams of the future: Schoolgirls meet researchers on Girls' Day

When it comes to promoting girls in the natural sciences and computer science, role models play an important role. That's why the CISPA Cysec Lab took on this topic for Girls Day 2024. CISPA-Faculty Dr. Aurore Fass and PhD student Anne Müller answered the questions of almost 50 Saarland schoolgirls during an exciting discussion in the school laboratory at the Beckerturm in St. Ingbert. The event was part of a one-day workshop in which the participants were able to learn about current cybersecurity topics via interactive demo stations and practical applications.
“How did you get into your profession? What does your day-to-day work look like? What do you do as a researcher in the field of cybersecurity? Did you do well at school? How digital is the work? Do you enjoy your job?” The Girls' Day participants collected these and many more questions at the CISPA Cysec Lab during a morning workshop in preparation for a visit of two CISPA researchers. Andrea Ruffing, head of the Cysec Lab, had invited CISPA-Faculty Dr. Aurore Fass and PhD student Anne Müller to prove to the schoolgirls that an IT career is not an unattainable dream for young girls, but that it can actually come true.
Fass and Müller went to great lengths to answer all the questions as best they could and share a thing or two from their daily lives as cybersecurity researchers. The students learned that going to international conferences is definitely one of the coolest experiences, at least for Müller. And that supervising tutorials and lectures is part of the job as a PhD student, which is also a lot of fun. The two also did away with some clichés: for example, that you neccessarily have to be good at math to study computer science or that programming from an early age is an important prerequisite. 

The three students Emilia, Jolina and Narin enjoyed the event. Emilia is considering studying computer science and feels encouraged by the talk. Jolina says that she has good grades in computer science and is therefore interested in the subject. The students also enjoyed finding out more about studying cybersecurity, how long it takes and what specific job opportunities may be available later in their careers. Fass's list of possible areas of work was definitely very long. “You can combine computer science with almost any subject area,” she explains.

The two CISPA researchers were impressed by the event and the students' interest. PhD student Müller thinks it is important to give young schoolgirls tips on studying computer science because most of them probably don't know anyone who is familiar with the subject. “As a schoolgirl, I was advised against studying IT by people who had no idea about computer science themselves. Fortunately, I didn't let that put me off”, Müller continues. And Fass adds: “This event was a perfect opportunity to answer their questions and share my experience with them, as an example of a career path in computer science and cybersecurity.”