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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Keeping women in the tech industry
Woman at PC
Men outnumber women in the tech industry
While initiatives to recruit more females in the tech industry have received publicity, one UK Government committee has suggested that more also needs to be done to retain women.

There is a definite imbalance in genders across the industry. Computer maker Dell is representative of many, with only a third of its new entrants being female.

At board level, the inequality between the sexes becomes more pronounced.

Just 18% of Dell's US directors are women and in Europe this falls to 8%.

Fast moving

The fact that the problem gets worse as jobs become more senior illustrates the problem of retention, said Pat Nathan, Vice President of Diversity at Dell.

Ms Nathan is one of the women chosen by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt to sit on a UK Government committee to look at the issue of recruiting and retaining women in technology.

Pat Nathan, Dell
Nathan - due to report to Hewitt in September
The eight-women group to due to report back in September.

Ms Nathan's research has shown that one of the main reasons women are not returning to their tech jobs after having a baby is because of the fast moving nature of the industry.

"The IT industry is so fast. If a woman takes a year's maternity leave, it is likely to be almost a new company when she comes back," she said.

Group creche

The cost of childcare is still one of the biggest hurdles in persuading women to return to their careers and Ms Nathan's committee will recommend increased co-operation between tech firms to solve the problem.

"I'm sitting here now and out of the window I can see HP and Fujitsu's buildings. Most tech firms are located on business parks and I cannot figure out why they aren't investing in third-party creches for infants and after-school care," she said.

"It is such a simple answer and we have got to drive it," she added.

For Ms Nathan the need to recruit and retain females in companies like Dell is vital.

"The more diverse the input to companies, the better the outcome," she said.

"Women represent around 50% of PC and internet users and we need to have our workforce reflect that demographic," she added.

The UK Government has made 1m available to tech firms which want to make working hours more flexible for women returning to work after having a family.

See also:

17 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
16 Jan 02 | Technology
23 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
04 Jan 02 | Business
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