GCHQ has launched an all-female training course in a bid to recruit women spies and redress the gender imbalance in the intelligence community.
Britain’s cyber spy headquarters, based in Cheltenham, says classes for female teenagers held across Britain in cyber-skills and intelligence will help to recruit more diversified agents.
The CyberFirst Girls’ Defenders course will see 600 applicants take part in residential and non-residential training events. The plan is to open cyber-skills to teenage girls in what is traditionally a male-dominated field.
The wider CyberFirst programme offers a range of courses and student bursaries for 11 to 17-year olds. GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) estimates around 90 per cent of the global cyber workforce are men.
Chris Ensor, the agency’s deputy director for skills and growth, said they have seen a spike in numbers attending their courses.
“Women only make up a small proportion of the global cyber-workforce, and throughout GCHQ and the NCSC we are looking to address the imbalance,” he said.
“Ensuring the inquisitive instincts of young people…is hugely important”.
The CyberFirst Girls’ Defenders course provides an introduction to the tools, knowledge and skills required to build and protect small networks and personal devices. The four-day package will be offered at 10 locations across the country.