A nationwide initiative called ITbeat, supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, e-skills UK, IBM, the Science Museum, British Phonographic Industry and music industry stars, has been set up to convince girls that working in IT is "cool". ITbeat will offer teenage girls the opportunity to design a Web site for their favourite pop star.
The 250 finalists in the competition will be invited to a sleepover party at the Science Museum on 7 March 2003. The event will conclude with a pop concert and an award ceremony for the winners.
ITbeat is countering the geeky image of IT by teaming up with young role models including Kiss FM DJ Alison Hulme, Shannon Ferguson, director of entertainment at Yahoo!, and Andrea Duffy, director of e-music for Sony.
Patricia Hewitt, secretary of state for Trade and Industry and Minister for Women has for some time encouraged more women to enter the world of technology.
"I am delighted that the British Phonographic Industry and the individual artists are willing to use this influence to help girls to understand that information technology offers challenges, rewards and opportunities for women to excel," said Hewitt.
"An IT industry dominated by men is only using half the available talent and creativity," she added. "Let's not just leave it to the boys."
Baroness Greenfield, another supporter of the ITbeat project, said: "It is time girls saw the job opportunities presented by a career in technology."