Harnessing girlpower to win the cyberwar

Resham KotechaResham Kotecha calls for a plaque on  the old school of Joan Clarke (Alan Turing’s “Fiance” played by Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game).

“I was appalled to learn that there was only one woman  among the finalists for the recent Cyber Security Challenge.” said Resham Kotecha, chief operating officer of Women2Win and Conservative Candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood.

“Girls who grow up in West Norwood have heard of Adele, who is a splendid role model, But they have not heard of Joan Clarke, unless they have seen “The Imitation Game” where she is played by Keira Knightley. Almost none will know that she was born in West Norwood, educated at Dulwich High Schools for Girls, (the buildings are now Rosemead School) and her contribution to winning World War 2 and the subsequent Cold War remains shrouded in secrecy because she did not retire from GCHQ until 1977.

“Meanwhile few girls who grow up in Dulwich will have heard of Mavis Batey, who was only 19 when she broke the Italian Naval Enigma code in a single mammoth shift, after finding a message which contained no letter “L”s: “For the want of a letter the battle was lost”. That Battle was Cape Matapan. Mavis was born in Dulwich. Her mother was a seamstress and her father worked for the Post Office. She was still only 20 when she made the breakthroughs that enabled the Abwehr Enigma codes to be broken, thus enabling the Double Cross  operation without which D-Day would have been a bloodbath.

“I am passionate about education and about equality. A plaque may not seem a great deal but such celebration of girl power can help prevent us from overlooking half our talent pool. This is very important in an area as culturally diverse as Dulwich and West Norwood, which may sound leafy, but over half its children are brought up in social housing. The area also has a centuries old tradition of educational excellence and we need to make that tradition available to all. I would therefore like to use the opportunity to improve links between all the schools in the constituency.”