Code cracking and cyber security: Serco helps female students see STEM careers in action

Published: 27 May 2019

Image: Penrhos College students with Serco ICT Director Michael Penney in the Simulation Ward at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Students from Penrhos College have had the opportunity to try their hand at code cracking and hear from women working in science and technology careers as part of a new initiative developed by Serco and BT at Fiona Stanley Hospital. 

Held on 27 May, the Supporting Girls in STEM workshop aims to show students the real-world career pathways that can come from studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. Co-facilitated by Serco, BT, and Murdoch University, the full-day event combined practical exercises and demonstrations with the opportunity to meet women working in the field to discuss the realities of careers in science and technology. 

Image: Penrhos College students in the Automated Guided Vehicles workshop.

The initiative was developed by Serco ICT Director Michael Penney following a conversation with his daughter, who was in year 10 at Penrhos College at the time.

“My daughter was at the stage of selecting her upper-school subjects and I asked her whether she might be interested in looking at IT pathways,” Michael said.

“I was surprised that the possibility of working in the field hadn’t even crossed her mind. It got me thinking about how we could help support greater diversity in STEM careers through the work we’re doing at Fiona Stanley Hospital.”

Michael joined forces with Kate Langdale, Senior Service Delivery Manager at Serco’s ICT partner BT. After conversations with female colleagues and leaders in ICT, they uncovered a common theme.

“None of the women we spoke to set out to have a career in this field; they had come into the profession almost by accident,” Kate said. 

“We spoke about how we could help the gender balance and two things became clear: better mentoring and support of women already working in the industry, and understanding what might be inhibiting girls in school from thinking of a career in this field.”

Penrhos College teacher and STEM specialist Hannah Fay said students were excited to see first-hand they type of careers that their studies in STEM could lead to.

“It’s an important initiative because it gives students the opportunity to learn about new developments in science and technology and how they are being applied in a practical setting,” she said.

“It’s also great for the students to hear from women who have successfully navigated careers in the field. Their stories can be a powerful teaching tool.”


Media contact: Tim Evans, +61 409 389 358
General media enquiries: Serco media line, +61 (0) 2 9409 8700 or