Women-only specialist group aims to support female Iters

A specialist forum for female members of the BCS has been launched. It has already received a positive response from 500 members...

A specialist forum for female members of the BCS has been launched. It has already received a positive response from 500 members keen to discuss issues surrounding women in IT, writes John Kavanagh.

The BCSWomen Specialist Group held its inaugural meeting in an online chatroom and now aims to hold monthly chatroom events and at least one traditional meeting a year. In between there will be informal discussions via the Internet.

The main aims are to provide an opportunity for networking and to support women working in IT and those about to enter the profession, including helping them find mentors.

"Women from around the globe can now be part of a network dedicated to women working in IT," says Sue Black, senior lecturer in computing at London's South Bank University, who is chairing the group. She set up the specialist group after successfully running a women's group based on the BCS London Central Branch.

"Many are specialists in diverse areas of IT - development, networking, project management and so on. Others have less specialised but vital roles, such as facilitating communication between IT and business management.

"Women of all ages often have different concerns and priorities from those of their male colleagues; as a result they must make trade-offs. These can be in their personal or family life, to conform to what is expected of them at work, or for their careers.

"It has been evident from discussions held so far in the group that women typically do not hesitate to put their family first. A positive by-product of this is that they have learnt to become more proficient in their approach to their personal and professional lives.

"There is a big shortage of women in IT, yet those who take this route normally find themselves in work that is very interesting, in an environment that is dynamic and highly motivated. They can however miss female contact at work. We hope the networking opportunities provided by this group will help fill this gap."

BCS president 2003
An international expert in multimedia information systems, content-based retrieval and digital libraries is set to become BCS president in 2003 - just as the society expands its member services in this area.

Wendy Hall, currently BCS vice-president, knowledge services, will become deputy president to John Ivinson, an IT consultant, in October and president a year later, if the pattern followed throughout the society's history continues.

Hall is professor of computer science at Southampton University. Her research interests include multimedia information systems, hypermedia systems, digital libraries, content-based retrieval, agent systems and user interfaces. She was the founding head of the university's Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia Research Group and has published more than 200 papers in these areas and regularly speaks at international conferences.

Hall was made a CBE and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2000. She holds the highest BCS membership grade of fellow.

Details of the BCSWomen Specialist Group are available by e-mailing Sue Black at [email protected]

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