Action needed to attract women to high-tech careers, finds UK report

September 13, 2005

Brussels, 12 Sep 2005

The UK's technology industry must do more to attract and retain female employees if it is to remain internationally successful, according to a new report by Intellect and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Their research found evidence of an 'old boys club' within parts of the high-tech industry, and the subsequent report said that many women leave high-tech jobs due to long hours, few networking opportunities and a perceived male domination of the industry culture.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the number of women employed in the UK high-tech industry fell from per cent to 21 per cent between 1997 and 2005, and the British Computer Society has reported that 28 per cent of UK organisations do not employ women in high-tech roles.

'It is vital for the UK's productivity and competitiveness that the IT industry harnesses all of its skilled labour force potential,' said Meg Munn, the DTI's Deputy Minister for Women and Equality. 'To meet the continuing growth in the use of IT, we need to encourage more people to consider IT related careers - and ensure that professional women in this sector are able to contribute fully at all stages in their career.'

Another issue thrown up by the report was the lack of opportunities for part-time workers in IT positions, particularly women seeking more senior roles. Part-time work has a poor image within the industry and part-time workers are not given the same level of responsibility as their full-time counterparts, it added.

According to the report's recommendations, more must be done to recruit, motivate and retain women in high-tech fields. There should be more support for women in the workplace, it adds, including business mentoring and increased networking opportunities, and the IT sector should consider diversity training for those in the industry who are unsure of the need for equality in the workplace.

'The UK IT industry is world leading, but it won't stay that way for long if we continue to haemorrhage valuable skilled women professionals from the sector,' said John Higgins of Intellect. 'If we want our organisations to grow then we must open our ears to the report's findings and recommendations.' To download a copy of the report (in PDF format), please: click here

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities
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