Women - get wired!

If there is one thing I would urge women to do to improve their future career prospects it is to keep up with the fast-changing...

If there is one thing I would urge women to do to improve their future career prospects it is to keep up with the fast-changing world of computers and technology.

We are moving rapidly towards an economy where the enormous power of information communication and technology (ICT) will be harnessed by the skills and talents of individuals.

I want women to be at the forefront of this IT revolution. By 2011 there will be an extra 1.7 million new jobs of which 1.3 million will be occupied by women. The majority of these jobs will rely on ICT.

There is another reason for women to embrace new technology - the "female forfeit". Research published by the Government's Women's Unit shows that women forgo income simply by being female. For example, a typical woman forgoes about £250,000 over a lifetime by being a woman and nothing to do with her having children. Much of this loss is due to levels of skill and education.

Naturally, this is a cause of concern for the Government. Although girls do well at school they are only half as likely as boys to do subjects like maths, technology or physics at A level.

We cannot tell students what to study but we can ensure women are technologically literate, are aware of the attractions of careers in ICT and have the right work experience and careers advice to make informed choices.

But it doesn't stop at young women. Through life-long learning we are encouraging women of all ages to upgrade their computer skills. Computers and technology are the way of the future. My advice to women to improve their career prospects and marketability is "get wired up".

Baroness Jay is Minister for Women

Women and IT special

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This was last published in March 2000

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