GCHQ Calls For More Female Coders


If anyone had any doubts about whether school-age girls could benefit from having a private coding tutor, a new call for more female coders from the government’s cyber intelligence agency GCHQ should leave no doubt.

The organisation is to fund new 14-week ‘nano-degree’ courses for women to learn enhanced data and software skills, in order to increase the number of female workers at GCHQ’s sites in Cheltenham, London and Manchester. At present, only a third of staff at GCHQ are women and the figure drops further when it comes to technology roles.

Speaking to The Guardian, director of strategy policy and engagement Jo Cavan said: “We have been working hard to increase that number so we have more diverse teams and better get across the threats we need to today.”

She said a more diverse workforce is necessary to help tackle the needs of the present day, as new angles and understanding are required to deal with threats from countries like China, which are seeking to “impose non-western values on technology”.

The GCHQ project involves a partnership with a company called Code First Girls, whose clients are often women in their late 20s or early 30s seeking a career change.  Notably, a survey has shown 80 per cent of them were not encouraged to code or pursue careers in technology during their school days.

While this course may help cut the gender gap now, it also suggests that for girls learning coding now, a clearer path to tech jobs in the future may open up, not least as employers increasingly understand the value of a more gender-balanced workforce.

It appears these benefits are being recognised even in countries and cultures where women’s social position is often seen in a dim light, such as Saudi Arabia.

According to ITP.net, the country is to train up 600 women in the Apple Developer Academy, as the country highlights improvements in the field of women’s empowerment.