BRITAIN'S national intelligence agency unveiled plans on Thursday to train about 600 teenager girls in cyber skills this year in a bid to get more women into the male-dominated field.

The Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ] said it would choose girls aged 12 and 13 to take part in four-day courses in coding, cryptography, logic and protecting networks following nationwide competition this month.

A spokesman from GCHQ unit, the National Cyber Security Crime, said the aim was to encourage more young people - particularly girls, - to work in cyber security with figures showing only 11  percent of the global cyber workforce is female.

''We are looking to address this imbalance - ensuring the inquisitive instincts of young people to find out how things work are maintained is hugely important,'' said NCSC Deputy Director Chris Ensor in a statement.

The initiative was welcomed by the technology industry and viewed as timely with UK government figures showing that in 2017 about 43 percent of the businesses and 18 percent of charities reported a cyber security breach over the course of a year.

''Often women and girls are coned off from the industry at a young age,''said Vinous Ali. head of policy at techUK that represents more than 900 technology startups and businesses.

Ali said girls early exposure to images of James Bond and teenage boys coding in their bedrooms reinforced stereotypes about who fitted in the tech sector.

She added 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. [Agencies]


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