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Our Inspiring Role Models

Dr Natalie Coull - Ethical Hacking Lecturer, School of Arts, Media & Computer Games

Natalie is an Ethical Hacking Lecturer in Abertay's School of Arts, Media & Computer Games and, in 2016, was honoured for her contribution to cyber security – winning the Outstanding Woman in Cyber prize at the inaugural Scottish Cyber Awards. Natalie has been a lecturer at Abertay since 2007 and is the Programme Leader for the MSc Ethical Hacking and BSc Digital Forensics.

Natalie is involved in several initiatives to increase the number of women studying computing. In her role as a STEM ambassador, she regularly visits schools to conduct workshops. Her research interests relate to the broad area of cyber security and cover issues such as utilising anti-patterns to embed security in the software development lifecycle and utilising steganographic techniques to address piracy.

Tell us about your career…

As a teenager, I wasn’t really sure what sort of career I wanted. I did computing at school and really enjoyed programming and problem solving, so it seemed like an appropriate thing to study at university. Although there were fewer girls than boys in my computing class at school, I never really thought of it as a male subject area. It’s never been an issue for me.

At university, there were about 100 people in my first year class and only about six of those were girls. But we mixed in and formed a group of friends – male and female. I don’t feel being female as held me back in any way, but I have noticed that I may often be the only female in a meeting. I’ve never really felt like this was an issue, my male colleagues don’t treat me any differently.

Inspired by…

People… All the time. I am inspired by women I come across professionally and socially – colleagues, students, family, friends. People can inspire me in so many different ways.

Advice for young women…

Don’t make your sex an issue, but be aware of unconscious bias. This is where your background, personal experiences, societal stereotypes and cultural context can have an impact on your decisions and actions without you realising.

International Women’s Day…

Can help to address unconscious bias and show that women can be leaders in their field. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate the positive successes that women have had in all walks of life.