Government programme to get women back to IT

A pilot project at Coventry University aims to encourage women who have left the high-tech sector to return

Women who have left the high-tech sector are being encouraged to come back to their former professions by a government-backed scheme.

The £750,000 pilot project is part of the government's Teaching Company Scheme (TCS), in which the state partially funds collaborations between companies and universities.

This particular project will be operated by Coventry University. Its aim is to support and encourage women to return to the science, engineering and technology (SET) industries.

The TCS will fund 10 female associates to be placed in suitable employment in the SET industries. It's hoped that the collaboration will produce a number of case studies for businesses to learn from.

John Latham, managing director of Coventry University Enterprises, said: "Women returners are a vital, but under-represented, part of the continuing growth of the sector. This regional pilot will improve representation, showcase the positive impact women returners can have and contribute over £750,000 worth of investment towards the growth of the sector."

According to the government's Promoting SET for Women Unit, which is part of the Office of Science and Technology, the number of women of working age with SET degrees has risen from 240,000 in 1992 to 290,000 in 2000. But the number of women with SET degrees employed in SET occupations has remained unchanged since 1992, standing at around 25 per cent. The figure for men is 40 percent.

Moreover, in 2000, economically inactive female SET graduates provided a pool of approximately 50,000 potential returners.

The Promoting SET for Women Unit will provide the funding, supported by the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) Small Business Service.

For more information see the SET Web site.

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