The UK government has appointed Anne Keast-Butler as the new director of intelligence, security, and cyber agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Keast-Butler was appointed following a cross-government recruitment process and will succeed Sir Jeremy Fleming, who is stepping down after six years in the role. Keast-Butler, currently serving as\u202fdeputy director general at domestic counterintelligence and security agency MI5, will become the first female director of GCHQ. She will take up her post\u202fin May.Prior to MI5, Keast-Butler spent two years on secondment to GCHQ as head of counter terrorism and serious organised crime. She has also spent part of the last decade on secondment in Whitehall, helping to launch the National Cyber Security Programme \u2013 an \u00a3860 million, five-year initiative to tackle cyberthreats and make the UK safer.Keast-Butler\u2019s security exercise will help combat cybercriminals, malign foreign powersKeast-Butler\u2019s proven track record\u202fat the heart of the UK\u2019s national security will help to counter threats posed by terrorists, cybercriminals, and malign foreign powers, said foreign secretary James Cleverly. \u201cShe is the ideal candidate to lead GCHQ, and Anne will\u202fuse her vast experience to help keep the British public safe,\u201d he added.Anne\u2019s appointment is fantastic news for the organisation, added outgoing GCHQ director Fleming. \u201cI have worked with Anne for decades and think she is a brilliant choice with deep experience of intelligence and security in today\u2019s technology-driven world.\u201dKeast-Butler aims to make the UK more secure through diversityKeast-Butler said she is delighted to become the seventeenth director of GCHQ and looks forward to working alongside a team of people from diverse backgrounds with a broad range of skills who share a singular focus on making the UK safer, more secure, and more prosperous.\u201cIn just the last year GCHQ has contributed vital intelligence to shape the West\u2019s response to the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, helped disrupt terrorist plots, and worked tirelessly to tackle the ongoing threat of ransomware, the impact of which costs the UK dearly,\u201d she added.Cybersecurity still has poor female leadership representationThe appointment of a female to such a notable security leadership role for the first time is significant, particularly given the cybersecurity industry\u2019s poor track record in attracting and retaining female talent.Research led by cybersecurity PR firm Eskenzi revealed that women only hold 21% of leadership roles and 17% of board member positions within the world\u2019s leading cybersecurity companies. Most management roles women hold within cybersecurity organisations are in either marketing, people, or HR positions, the survey found. Meanwhile, one in ten companies listed no female leadership on their websites.ISC2\u2019s 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study found that women account for 30% of global cybersecurity workers who are under the age of 30, with that figure dropping to just 14% of those 60 or older. It also found that women across the board remain underrepresented in advanced, non-managerial positions, where they make up only 17% of the respondent base.\u201cThis is a momentous moment for women\u2019s representation. Diversity in cybersecurity is key because we need a real mix of minds to provide solutions to oncoming threats and ensure our own systems are unpredictable,\u201d said Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls. Women who may never have considered a career in codebreaking, intelligence, and tech will now see a director that looks like them and think again, Brailsford added.