BCS backs online service to get more women into IT

A new online service to encourage the recruitment and career progression of women in IT has been launched with backing from the...

A new online service to encourage the recruitment and career progression of women in IT has been launched with backing from the BCS and the Government, writes John Kavanagh.

Equalitec, partly funded by the Department of Trade & Industry, has separate sections for individuals, employers and higher education establishments. Its overall aim is to "address the gender imbalance in the workforce" - in the UK less than 20% of IT staff are women.

"The site will contain global best practice examples of the recruitment, retention and progression of women in IT, electronics and communications careers and degree courses through case studies and articles," says Equalitec project manager Marina Larios.

An online mentoring resource centre has already gone live, offering information and advice on setting up in-house schemes.

There will be an online database of female undergraduates requiring placements and companies offering placements across Europe. Online debates will be organised on topical themes. "This is a dynamic site, with new features and resources being added all the time," says Larios.

BCS support for Equalitec follows the formation of a BCS group for women in IT with similar aims to those of the new service. The group has found a ready audience, with 500 women getting involved in online discussions. Women into Computing, a group affiliated to the BCS, is also supporting Equalitec.

Last month, BCS chief executive David Clarke highlighted the relatively small numbers of women entering careers in IT and warned that the UK will face severe IT skills shortages unless new education initiatives are set up and led by industry. Some of Equalitec's work responds to these points.

Other organisations supporting Equalitec include E-Skills UK, BT, IT services groups Logica and Newell & Budge, the Institute for the Management of Information Systems, and the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

Equalitec is being run by Portia, an organisation set up in 1998 to represent women, groups and institutions concerned with electronics, engineering, technology and science. Portia says this will ensure that Equalitec will express women's perspectives on the whole field.

www.equalitec.com/
www.portiaweb.org.uk/
www.bcs.org/bcswomen

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