Microsoft UK uses mock fashion shows to get women into IT

Microsoft UK is using mock fashion shows to get girls interested in IT careers.

The software giant is trying new ways of getting children, particularly young women, enthusiastic about studying the subject.

Just 16% of the UK IT workforce is female, and Microsoft is desperate to change the sector’s image as it tries to fill skills shortages.

Stephen Uden, head of skills and economic affairs at Microsoft, told Personnel Today: “There is a huge skills gap in IT, which holds back the growth of our business.

“More than 140,000 IT jobs are projected to be created before 2011 in the UK, so unless we can solve the root causes of skills shortages we will be chasing our tails.”

Microsoft has recently become involved in the £2.75m industry-wide Revitalise IT programme to encourage school children to study the subject.

Uden said this would build on work the company already carried out in schools to change the image of IT.

“IT workers have an image of being white, male and geeky,” he said. “Whether this is actually the case is another matter. But we need to change this image.

“One thing we are doing with girls is getting them to organise a fashion show, which means getting posters together and planning. We use computers to do these things and hopefully that is more appealing to them than just teaching them which button does what.”

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