The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) said it would chose girls aged 12 and 13 to take part in four-day courses in coding, cryptography, logic, and protecting networks following a nationwide competition this month.
A spokesman from GCHQ unit, the National Cyber Security Centre, said the aim was to encourage more young people — particularly girls — to work in cyber security with figures showing only 11% of the global cyber workforce is female.
The initiative was welcomed by the technology industry and viewed as timely with U.K. government figures showing that in 2017 about 43% of businesses and 19% of charities reported a cyber security breach over the course of a year.
Ali said girls’ early exposure to images of male James Bonds and teenage boys coding in their bedrooms reinforced stereotypes about who fitted in the tech sector.
Without role models, girls did not consider entering the field which has tried to address the lack of women by training staff in unconscious bias, highlighting female role models on social media, and deleting gender from CVs, said Vinous Ali, head of policy at techUK that represents more than 900 technology start-ups and businesses
Ms. Ali said it was also important for the public sector to be a role model for diversity.