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MI5 Deputy Director Becomes First Female Head of GCHQ

GCHQ’s first female director

Current MI5 deputy director Anne Keast-Butler will be taking over the reins at GCHQ. She will be the first female to lead the UK’s intelligence and security agency.

Ms. Keast-Butler has the unenviable job of protecting the country. She will defend it from terrorists, injurious foreign powers, and cyber-criminals.

GCHQ’s first female director will be taking over from Sir Jeremy Fleming. He's set to complete his six-year tenure in the agency. She will be its 17th leader since the agency's establishment over a century ago.

Ms. Keast-Butler is also married and has three children. She’s a math alumnus of Merton College, Oxford. She also has quite an impressive resume. She has worked in national security for 30 years.

She also worked for two years on secondment to the GCHQ. She headed the group on counter-terrorism and organized crime. This was before securing her senior security service roles at MI5.

She was also employed in Whitehall over the past ten years. She was crucial in launching the National Cyber Security Program at the time.

Ms. Keast-Butler is now one of the UK’s top senior intelligence officers. As the deputy director of MI5, she aided in overseeing the country’s response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Her appointment to the directorship of GCHQ received a lot of praise. Many lauded it as momentous for female empowerment and representation. It also shines a spotlight on the MI6. It’s now the sole major security agency that hasn’t had a female head.

The long-time civil servant announced that she was joining a world-class team. She described them as people from very diverse backgrounds. She said they come with a wide range of skill sets but are all focused on ensuring the country is safer and more secure. Ms. Keast-Butler also said she'll ensure those working for the agency will remain the best.

The Cambridge native also gave her thanks to Sir Fleming for his dedication and vision. She acknowledged that the GCHQ underwent a transformation under his tutelage.

Security experts say her first priority is China and Russia. She has to address their harmful influence and activities.

Sir Fleming said that Russia poses an immediate threat. But he cautioned that China was a long-term one.

The first female director of GCHQ will also face some pressure on the agency’s past alpha male culture.

A recent gender pay report revealed that men outnumber women in the agency at a ratio of 3:1. Sir Fleming also acknowledged three years ago that the GCHQ wasn’t diverse enough.

Ms. Keast-Butler’s appointment signifies the breaking of the glass ceiling. Especially in the intelligence community. The chief executive of Code First Girls calls this a momentous moment. It's a first in the quest for female representation.

National Security Adviser Sir Tim Barrow, said Ms. Keast-Butler is an exceptional candidate. He also gave his thanks to Sir Fleming’s contributions.

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