Page last updated at 22:58 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 23:58 UK

'Not enough women in technology'

Martha Lane Fox talks about the huge benefits of using the Internet.

There are still too few women working in technology in the UK, Martha Lane Fox has told the BBC.

Ms Lane Fox, who is the government's digital champion, believes that more should be done to encourage young girls to enter the field.

"We haven't set the ambition enough in this country to turn a whole generation of women into technologists and scientists," she said.

She has been charged with getting the poorest people to access the internet.

Six million

Her target is to get the internet to as many as possible of the 17 million British people who are not online by the time the Olympics come to London in 2012.

She has focused on the six million from that group who are among the poorest people in Britain and who, studies show, cannot afford net access.

"If you have no access to the Internet, that sort of exaggerates and exacerbates a lot of the problems," she told the BBC's business editor Robert Peston.

A recent survey showed a substantial minority of those without the Internet would not want it under any circumstances.

Ms Lane Fox believes she can convince some of them by showing them the money they can save by going online.

On average, people with access save about £276 a year and earn up to 10% more than those who are not online, she said.

"All we're saying is, I actually believe you'll be able to do most of the things you enjoy with this tool," she added.

Sexism

Ms Lane Fox began her career as a media consultant.

She went on to set up, with co-founder Brent Hoberman, the online travel company, lastminute.com, in 1998.

peston and martha
Ms Lane Fox discussed her career since leaving lastminute.com as well

At the height of the dot-com boom towards the late Nineties, she was a symbol of the new breed of internet entrepreneurs.

She became one of the 100 richest women in the UK after the company went public in 2000.

She said she only encountered direct sexism as part of her job once, when she and Mr Hoberman went around seeking £600,000 to start up lastminute.com.

The venture capitalist they were pitching to read the business plan and said: "This is all very well but what happens if you get pregnant?"

Ms Lane Fox quit lastminute.com in 2003.

In 2004, she was involved in a severe car crash in Morocco and she has not fully recovered.

"No, it's not a comprehensive recovery and I don't think it ever will be," Ms Lane Fox said.

The full interview with Martha Lane Fox can be seen on Leading Questions with Robert Peston at 2230 BST on the BBC News Channel or watch it now by clicking here



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