Work needed to get women into IT

IT companies are failing to recruit and retain female IT professionals,
claims a guide released by the National Computing Centre (NCC) last week.

It shows that the proportion of women in IT has fallen from 29 per cent in
1994 to just 18 per cent this year.

The Best Practice Guide to IT Skills calls on employers to improve diversity
in the workplace by understanding staff work-life balance issues, and providing
effective training and career development paths.

It also estimates that there is a shortage of 50,000 to 70,000 IT
professionals in the UK, although a bigger problem could be the lack of
appropriate skills.

Companies need to understand their skills requirements and develop a skills
strategy, claims the guide.

Julia Brant, research officer at the NCC, said, "HR departments are
strongly advised to look at good training opportunities, and flexible packages
and working arrangements.

"But above all they must work very hard to ensure that the business
ethos of their company stresses that women are valued for their knowledge and
expertise and given equal opportunities and pay."

Getting women into the IT sector is also high on the political agenda, with
Trade & Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt announcing last month that the
Government is to work with IT employers to look at how they can recruit and
retain women.

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