They are still a few years off finishing school, but already Sarah Siddiqui and Isabel Brown are breaking ground in a male-dominated industry.
Part of a cohort of 137 girls from across the state, the two Wagga students participated in Charles Sturt University's Girls In Cyber Security Advancing project last year.
Together, they took out third place in the 2020 Asia Pacific Triple E Award. To qualify in the top places, the team competed against 17 other nations.
Particularly for 15-year-old Isabel, the journey through cybersecurity has not ended with the victory. She has been chosen to progress to the next level of the project.
"All of us attended the sessions, to begin with, but then a few of us went into the competition which was held online," the Riverina Anglican College student said.
"We had to answer cybersecurity questions, they were pretty hard. Things like, how do people try to hack into a computer, how do you tell if a website is secure."
Achieving a near-perfect score, Isabel joined 20 other female students from across the nation in qualifying for the next level of the project.
But though she will not be joining Isabel, 14-year-old Sarah still sees her time in the program as valuable.
"I enjoyed it. I learnt about hacking, I think it's interesting to know why people do it," Sarah said.
"I definitely want to have a career in STEM, but I'm not sure where. I'm a lot more interested in cybersecurity as a career now."
With federal funding for the next two years, the Girls In Cyber Security project developed when Professor Tanveer Zia acknowledged a gap in the industry.
Having three daughters of his own, Professor Zia recognised that there was plenty of opportunities but little encouragement for women to pursue careers in cybersecurity.
"Cybersecurity is an emerging field of the IT industry, and we consistently see women making up less than 15 per cent of that field," he said.
"Women in IT is currently sitting at 11 per cent in Australia."
To counteract the problem, Professor Zia began contacting schools in the hopes of building female students' confidence in the area of study.
"Girls possess natural creativity, they look at problems creatively and come up with creative solutions that are beyond the technical solutions," Professor Zia said.
"There are already women leading in the field, I've met many of them. It's just about getting more and breaking those stereotypes that the field is data-driven and full of males in jeans and hoodies sitting in dark rooms."
Armed with their newly acquired skills and knowledge in the area, both Sarah and Isabel are hopeful to evangelise their peers into the field.
"For [girls] my age, I feel it's a lack of confidence. I also think a lot of women don't know there are opportunities in cybersecurity," Isabel said.
"As women increase, and join it, it'll make it easier for other women to join."
Following the experience, Isabel said she is hoping to pursue a career in either mechatronics or cybersecurity.
"[Cyber security] is actually easy to learn about, and it's so important to know how to protect yourself online. It's a viable place for all women."