IT needs more women, fewer nerds

British Trade and Industry Secretary encourages women to study information technology and says: "We want to see more IT girls and fewer Net nerds in our computing industries."
Written by Andrew Swinton, Contributor
LONDON--Women are being encouraged to enter the IT industry in a new initiative by the British government.

Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt said the government would introduce measures in 2002 to try to attract more women to the industry. She said: "We need to give information technology an image makeover to make it more attractive to women."

The number of IT jobs has grown by 50 percent over the past five years creating 336,000 jobs, compared with an 8 percent growth in the general work force. Only 22 percent of IT staff are female, down from 29 percent in 1994.

"We want to see more IT girls and fewer Net nerds in our computing industries," Hewitt said.

Woman of all ages are targeted. The measures include:

* Encouraging more girls to use computers in schools.

* Helping young women making their first career choices more aware of information technology opportunities.

* Working with businesses to improve how they recruit women in technology jobs.

* Offering advice to women who are unemployed, returning to work after a career break, or are looking for a change.

"Although more women are now working than ever before, too many are low-paid and too few are well-paid," said Hewitt.

"I want to see more women in interesting, well-paid jobs and IT is a great way to get there. Female IT graduates earn about £3,000 (US$4,330) more than other female graduates," she said.

Next month, a report entitled Women Participating in IT, Electronics and Communications is due to be published by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department for Education and Skills.

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