The new National Cyber Security Centre is attempting to improve gender equality in the IT sector by launching a competition for budding female techies.
Competition winners stand to win prizes plus £1,000 for their school- Photo credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images
The NCSC this week launched a competition for schoolgirls aged between 13-15 to seek out the best emerging talent in the UK.
The pupils will be tested on cyber security skills, with the top 10 teams fighting it out in a national final in London in March.
GCHQ director Robert Hannigan said: “I work alongside some truly brilliant women who help protect the UK from all manner of online threats.
“The CyberFirst Girls Competition allows teams of young women a glimpse of this exciting world and provides a great opportunity to use new skills.”
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Currently, only 10 per cent of the global cyber workforce are female, which the NCSC said means millions of British women missing out on a career they could excel in.
Girls aged 13-15 can enter the competition in teams of four, plus a teacher to act as a guardian and mentor.
The winners will get individual prizes and their school will receive IT equipment to the value of £1,000.
Alison Whitney, deputy director of digital services at the NCSC, said: ““Women can, and do, make a huge difference in cyber security – this competition could inspire many more to take their first steps into this dynamic and rewarding career.
“Having worked in cyber security for over a decade, it is a line of work I would strongly recommend to anybody, and one where lots more women could make a really positive impact on the world.
“It’s a fantastic career choice where team work, ingenuity and creative thinking are highly valued attributes and the rewards can be substantial.”
The NCSC, which began operations in November, will provide a single, central body for cyber security at a national level.
It will manage national cyber security incidents, carry out real-time threat analysis and provide tailored sectoral advice.
More information on the competition can be found at www.ncsc.gov.uk/events/cyberfirst-girls-competition.