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NCSC commits to greater diversity

GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre is planning several initiatives to ensure more women are attracted to and remain in technology roles, particularly cyber security

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has announced several initiatives at the CyberUK 2017 conference in Liverpool to support its commitment to greater diversity.

Although half of the NCSC’s senior mangers are women, the overall number of women in the organisation is closer to one third, which is something the leadership plans to change. 

The NCSC, which is part of intelligence agency GCHQ, said it will work with the private sector to provide first-job placements for women with qualifications in science, technology, engineering and maths.

About 40% of women give up their jobs in high-tech companies, compared with less than 20% of men, and more than a third of women leaving tech roles cite the working environment as the reason.

GCHQ said it is committed to helping reverse this by giving women a more positive experience early in their career to help enhance business impact and improve the economy. 

In partnership with the new TechUK Returners Hub, the NCSC said it will ensure that women returning to technological roles after a career break receive mentoring and sponsorship.

The NCSC also announced that CyberUK 2018 will have a theme of women in cyber security.

Alison Whitney, the deputy director for digital services at the NCSC, said there is a huge interest amongst young women in cyber security.

This is evidenced by the fact that the NCSC’s CyberFirst Girls competition attracted entries from teams made up of more than 8,000 teenage girls.

“Having worked in cyber security for over a decade, I would recommend it to any woman hoping to make a positive impact on the world,” said Whitney.

“As the leading technical authority on cyber issues, we want to do everything we can to remove barriers for that hobby turning into a possible career,” she said.

Spearheading innovation

With 170 speakers, 90 exhibitors and 35 hours of stream sessions, CyberUK was organised by the NCSC to spearhead innovation to counter growing online threats.

NCSC technical director Ian Levy closed the conference with a call for the sector to join the organisation in creating a cyber code of conduct to promote the right behaviours in the industry and increase diversity.

“CyberUK gave us a platform to remind people of our key principles, and since launching we have been clear that we want to bring more women into the UK’s cyber security industry and for them to be treated with total respect and equality.

“This was our biggest event of the year and gave us a fantastic chance to discuss how to implement cyber security with partners in business and industry.

“We will be working closely with people and organisations far beyond the conference to promote the sort of behaviours that will make the cyber security sector a more diversity-friendly environment,” he said.

The conference also saw 12 companies pitching ideas that could improve national security in a Dragon’s Den-style event, which was won by iProov, a company pioneering facial recognition technology they hope will replace written passwords.

The NCSC, which was launched on 1 October 2016 and opened its London office on 14 February 2017, provides a single, central body for cyber security at a national level. It manages national cyber security incidents, carries out real-time threat analysis and provides tailored sectoral advice.

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