How inclusivity is inspiring world class cyber innovation

Thought Leadership

International Women’s Day understandably dominated headlines in early March. But inclusivity is wider than gender equality – and something that inspires innovation every day at the Cyber Innovation Hub – as we found out when we spoke with Dr Yulia Cherdantseva, Director of the Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education at Cardiff University, and the University’s lead on skills at the Cyber Innovation Hub…

“International Women’s Day was an occasion for all of us to stop for a moment and appreciate the role of women in our society” says Yulia. “It’s a day to celebrate all the amazing achievements made in the fight against discrimination, inequality and stereotypes. But it’s also a day to reflect that women do not stand alone – and female equity is just part of creating a truly inclusive and equal society.”  

“Role models can be any gender”

“I’ve been lucky enough to meet many brilliant people who have influenced my professional life – and unsurprisingly, given my field, most of them are male. I see my senior male colleagues as role models; they are successful, supportive, approachable and relatable. We need to push back a little against the stereotype that a female needs a female role model. Most of my role models are male, and for me it’s a sign of equality that the gender of a role model makes no difference.”

“There are of course many female academics in senior roles who I look up to – and they undoubtedly provide an inspiration to me and my career. The cybersecurity sector is highly supportive of diversity and inclusion, and especially so for women in the sector. I sit on the steering committee of the CIISec’s “Women in Cyber” group and the CREST’s working group on Diversity and Inclusion. These groups work proactively to promote female role models in cybersecurity, engaging with different underrepresented groups, mentoring young female specialists, and addressing many burning issues in cybersecurity through online webinars and conference presentations.”

“That emphasis on engaging females is part of a wider inclusive focus for a cyber sector that needs to outreach to people of all genders, backgrounds, passions and interests. We know there are no small things when it comes to inclusivity and diversity. Even a seemingly insignificant phrase in a job advertisement, or a sentence in a speech from a role model – male or female – can have a significant effect, positively or negatively. So it’s our responsibility to engage with anyone who is touched by cyber – and that means just about everyone.”

“Our Cybersecurity Challenge Programme is inclusion in action”

“That’s why I’m delighted to see us widening the cyber conversation through initiatives such as the Challenge Programme recently launched by the Cyber Innovation Hub here in Cardiff.”

“The Challenge Programme is open to innovators from many different fields – any individual or small team with an idea for a game-changing cyber solution. Applicants for the programme can be a coder, a commercial lead or a ‘frontperson’, because the programme will plus any gaps in their expertise and make sure they have all the skills to drive a solution.”

“It’s a challenge designed to meet diverse needs – looking to identify, develop and demonstrate innovative solutions in the four main areas of Industrial IoT encryption, Incident response for SMEs and Citizens, Operational Technology, and Protecting SMEs and Citizens.

“So it’s a truly inclusive initiative, and that’s further reflected in bringing together enterprises such as the Alacrity Foundation and Tramshed Tech to help deliver a solution that works for everyone – and I’m fascinated to see what responses we have received to meeting the challenges, when applications close on 28th March.”     

“That bringing together of different ideas and perspectives – working with many different people from a wide variety of backgrounds – is one of the big reasons why I enjoy working in the cyber sector. It’s a continual exercise in broadening your knowledge horizon, harnessing that power of inclusion to innovate in an industry that is part of the fabric of today’s world.” 


You can find out more about the Cyber Innovation Hub Challenge Programme – including registering for an online briefing event being held on Thursday 23 March at 1400-1500 UK-time – at

Cyber Innovation Hub is co-funded in partnership by Cardiff Capital Region City Deal and Welsh Government.


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