Cybersecurity giants BAE Systems, DarkTrace and GCHQ are on a mission to address the industry’s gender diversity gap by recruiting more female coders during Cyber Awareness Month.
Despite cybersecurity being one of the fastest-growing industries in tech, analysis of the latest ONS Annual Population Survey reveals that women make up just 19% of cyber professionals in the UK. Yet with an estimated 1.8 million cybersecurity job vacancies at the end of 2023, the industry is also facing a major skills gap.
By partnering with Code First Girls (CFG), the largest provider of free coding courses for women in the UK, all three companies have sponsored almost 200 women to learn how to code. They are currently looking to recruit female coders across roles such as cyber analysts and junior software engineers through the CFG degree, a free, 16-week course.
A recent survey by Code First Girls of more than 1,200 women showed an increasing number are exploring pathways into tech – despite 80% reporting that a career in tech was neither mentioned nor encouraged at school. This includes roles in cybersecurity, with previous applications to GCHQ and BAE Systems’ opportunities being 300% and 420% oversubscribed.
Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls said: “To keep the UK safe, it is fundamental that the cybersecurity industry places an emphasis on employing more diverse teams to better address the security threats present today, and in the future.
“If we want to make UK security the strongest it can be, it needs to draw on the widest possible range of voices and insights. That diversity of thought is absolutely crucial to protecting the UK and guarding against threats”.
Theresa Palmer, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence, said: “It’s well established that a diverse workforce contributes to a high-performing business. With the cyber threat landscape continuing to evolve at pace, it has never been more important to embrace diversity and inclusion in the UK’s cybersecurity industry. This is what will ensure we have the range of skills and experiences required to stay ahead of cyber criminals.
“We are proud to be working with industry leading specialist organisations such as Code First Girls to bring through the next generation of female talent that will help secure our future businesses and society.”
Hanah-Marie Darley, Head of Threat Research at Darktrace, said: “To help free the world of cyber disruption, we must make organisations more resilient in the face of growing, complex threats, accelerated by the increasing adoption of AI by bad actors. Talent is key to making this a reality. Diverse people and perspectives will help us find solutions to the challenges we will face today and tomorrow, so it is vital that we share our expertise and insight to build the next generation of technologists. That’s why we’re excited to partner with Code First Girls to help more women access the skills and opportunities to succeed in this pivotal time for the cybersecurity industry.”