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Cyberpowers Industry Immersion


Silver linings in a skills shortfall - Shaping girls’ understanding of Cybersecurity as a humanitarian profession.


As a society, we are fast learning the critical importance of cybersecurity, but what we don't always consider is that cybersecurity, first and foremost, is a humanitarian profession, underpinned by maths in order to protect systems, assets, services, and most importantly people.

We also know we don’t have enough workers who are highly specialised, multi-skilled and able to work behind the scenes – especially women.

The 2023 “Gender Dimensions of the Australian Cyber Security Sector Report” unpacked some alarming statistics.

Women make up 17% of the Australian Cybersecurity workforce.
During studies and training, only 24% of females had a female role model, and 29% had a female mentor. (Gender Dimensions of the Australian Cyber Security Sector Report - 2023 Page 27).

The current employment shortfalls in the sector are significant. We acknowledge there are complex reasons for this under-representation. But, quite simply, it's not good for the industry and it's not good for society.

In response to this industry-wide challenge, women from Monash Tech School and RMIT's School of Science, worked in partnership to consider “How might we create workshops that encourage girls and students who identify as female to consider cybersecurity as a career aspiration?”

Combining our specialist knowledge of design thinking, learning pedagogies, mathematics, and cybersecurity we co-designed an Industry Immersion called Cyberpowers. From the outset, the brief focused on designing a program that would combine Social Sciences, STEM and cyber-specific concepts, thereby generating interest from students who might be attracted to more traditional social and HASS pathways and occupations. We also knew we didn’t want to specifically include coding.

In the recent ISACA report, 55% of Cybersecurity Managers reported Soft Skills were their number 1 skills gap concern. (Information Systems Audit and Control Association - State of Cybersecurity 2023, Global Update on Workforce Efforts, Resources and Cyberoperations).

Girls and students who identify as female, generally speaking, bring a different set of skills and perspectives to Cybersecurity professions. Our partnership summarised these skills as 'cyberpowers’.


Cyberpowers created a safe, supportive space for girls to explore the humanitarian skills and aptitudes required in many cybersecurity professions. The girls worked through human-centred rotations that explored communication, attention to detail, teamwork, creativity, curiosity, and empathy.

Rotations also unpacked technical powers and used platforms to test password security, scam detection, social media, and Open Source Intelligence. MTS custom-built technology was developed and immersed students in an experience that allowed them to be the detectors and protectors of a community pool at risk of a malicious cyber attack.

While there is always the temptation to ask students to imagine themselves in a blockbuster-style hack or attack – infrastructure threatened, thousands impacted, and catastrophes aplenty – Cyberpowers is about building insights into the everyday vulnerability of communities and individuals as well as identifying the everyday weak points that hackers and predators prey on. Conceptualised by RMIT and built by Monash Tech School, design scenarios challenged students to develop empathy for the people affected. The human impact on a small community of local pool users might not grab headlines, but they have felt experiences that disrupt day-to-day businesses and lives – parents can’t get home, can’t pick up their children, lose a shift at work, and can’t open their locker all create a domino effect.

The essence of Cyberpowers is that with fidelity it weaves into rotations the everyday Maths powers that are integral to successful Cybersecurity protectors. Risk management, probability, coding and pattern recognition are integral maths competencies required, but without the humanitarian powers, cyber professionals are only doing half the job. RMIT School of Science academics co-designed the program and were on the floor to support students on the day. Students were able to meet and work with strong female role models who articulated clear pathways to post-secondary education and beyond.


Students received a co-branded digital badge to capture the “powers” obtained. The badge is an early career-focused digital asset and is demonstrated evidence of students’ participation in a sector with limited opportunities to source work experience opportunities.

The student survey data was compelling:
95% learned something new,
94% used technology to learn something new,
76% were now more likely to study a STEM course post-secondary school, and
69% are thinking of undertaking a career in STEM after school.

Cyberpowers will run again in Term 4, 2024.


Government Secondary Schools


RMIT academics


female students

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