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Cyber Security summit closes with commitment to a more diverse future

NCSC announces new initiatives to deliver ongoing commitment to diversity.

  • NCSC to offer first-job placements for female graduates with STEM degrees
  • Plans for new programme to provide mentoring for women returning to cyber careers
  • Next year’s conference to have a theme of females in cyber security

Organisers of a three-day cyber security summit in Liverpool have told its 2,500 attendees of new initiatives they will implement to deliver their ongoing commitment to diversity.

At the CYBERUK 2017 conference, directors from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) announced initiatives they hope will improve their own diversity. Although half of the NCSC’s senior management are female, the overall figure for the organisation is closer to one third.

The NCSC, which is part of GCHQ, will work with the private sector to provide first-job placements for female science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates.

In partnership with the new TechUK Returners Hub, they will also ensure 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:

“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.

“The good news is there is a huge interest amongst young women – as shown by more than 8,000 teenage girls entering our CyberFirst Girls competition.

“As the leading technical authority on cyber issues we want to do everything we can to break down any barriers preventing them from turning that hobby into a possible career.”

The NCSC’s technical director Dr 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 to promote diversity.

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.

One of the most well received sessions was ‘The Future of Cyber is Teenage Girls’ delivered by Anne-Marie Imafidon from Stemettes, an organisation that aims to inspire the next generation of females into STEM fields.

Dr Ian Levy, technical director at the NCSC, said:

“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.”

The conference in the Liverpool Arena 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 Government is fully committed to defending against cyber threats and address the cyber skills gap to develop and grow talent. A five year National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) was announced in November 2016, supported by £1.9billion of transformational investment.

The NCSC was formally opened by Her Majesty The Queen in February 2017 and 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 provide tailored sectoral advice.

Notes to editors

  • CyberUK was held at the Echo Arena Liverpool from March 14 to March 16.
  • About 40% of women give up their jobs in high-tech companies, compared to less than 20% of men.  Over a third of women leaving SET roles have said the working environment is the cause of their disaffection. 
  • GCHQ is committed to helping reverse this by giving women more positive reference points early in their career can only enhance business impact and improve the economy.
  • As part of GCHQ, and as the lead national authority on cyber security, the NCSC can take a leadership role in making this happen:
    • We are going to work with the private sector to provide placements in the NCSC as a first job for female graduates of STEM subjects;
    • We will be launching a competition for mixed research teams to provide solutions to difficult practical and abstract cyber security problems; and
    • Through the new TechUK Returners Hub, and following the Prime Minister’s investment announcement last week, we will develop a programme to support women returning to tech roles after a career break.
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