Attracting women in a male oriented technological environment

"Breaking down inaccurate perceptions associated with GCHQ is a constant battle; in particular raising gender awareness to the variety of our work is paramount. So we were particularly impressed with TMP's approach to this brief and the subsequent positive response the advert generated.

"Undoubtedly it has contributed to our diversity strategy; has been re-used in a number of different and cost effective ways; and has been commented on by both private and public sector bodies as a good approach to targeting a niche audience."

Spokesperson for GCHQ Recruitment


GCHQ - Government Communications Headquarters - forms a key part of the UK's National Intelligence and Security Services. As one of the three UK Intelligence Agencies, its role is to counter threats to British people and interests, along with MI5 and MI6. GCHQ is also responsible for cyber security in the UK, and concentrates expertise on understanding threats and exploiting opportunities in cyber space. With headquarters in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and two smaller sites in Cornwall and Yorkshire, GCHQ has a workforce of almost 5,300 staff.


The objective set by Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) was to improve the gender balance across all levels of the organisation, in particular by increasing the representation of women in technology and at a senior level, with the overall aim of improving the organisation's performance.


TMP had encouraged GCHQ to sponsor the Institution of Engineering and Technology's  (IET) annual 'Young Woman Engineer of the Year' Awards and in support of this, TMP were asked to design a generic technical advertisement that would be used across selected media (including the IET's more female applicants.

The advert combined technology with something traditionally female friendly - a bunch of flowers, with the flowers made up of ADSL, USB and FireWire cables. This idea was unanimously selected by GCHQ's Gender Difference Network as being the perfect concept to target potential female recruits in a positive and un-patronising way.


This campaign was more about awareness rather than seeing huge numbers applying, although during the timeframe of this campaign GCHQ did experience an uplift in applications from women - in excess of 280 applications from females against a monthly average of 80. The advertisement has played a big part in an overall drive by GCHQ to reflect its commitment to tackling barriers to women's career progress, encouraging an inclusive workplace culture, and providing a supportive and flexible benefits package.

Feedback from its audience included: "one of the most positive advertisements GCHQ has ever run", and "it shows that technological images don't need to be geeky".

Award winning

TMP and GCHQ received the following awards during 2011 for the creativity on this campaign:


RAD 2011 - Best Print Advertisement Central Government

Recruitment Business Awards 2011 Creative - Construction/technical/engineering/IT Sector Recruitment Advert Award


Recruitment Business Awards 2011 Creative -

Creative - Art Direction.