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EDITIONS
Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 10:30 GMT
Website contest to tempt teen girls
Girls on computer
Girls need persuading that tech can be cool
The UK Government is teaming up with the music industry in an attempt to entice young girls into technology.

ITbeat is a nationwide initiative, designed to encourage girls aged 11- 15 to rethink their attitudes to careers in information technology.

The initiative is a response to statistics which find that the number of female technology professionals in the UK has fallen dramatically over the last seven years to a low of just 20%.

The project, developed by e-skills UK, the Department of Trade and Industry, IBM, the Science Museum and some members of the music industry, will offer teenage girls the chance to design a website for their favourite pop star.

Girl power


Let's not just leave it to the boys

Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
The 250 finalists will take part in a sleepover at the Science Museum on 7 March 2003 which will include a pop concert and an award ceremony.

To inject a bit of girl power into the geeky image of technology, ITbeat has recruited young female role models including Kiss FM DJ Alison Hulme, Director of E-Music for Sony Andrea Duffy and Shannon Ferguson, Director of Entertainment at Yahoo.

Pop stars Liberty X, Rhianna and 3SL have also lent their support to the project.

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt has made it something of a personal crusade to get women back into traditionally male jobs.

Geek toy

"The British pop industry makes a huge contribution to the UK economy and also has huge influence on girls of this age," she said.

Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
Hewitt: Campaigning to rid tech of geeky image
"I am delighted that the British Phonographic Industry and the individual artists are willing to use this influence to help girls to understand that information technology offers challenges, rewards and opportunities for women to excel," she added.

"Let's not just leave it to the boys."

Statistics from research firm IDC show that the UK will increase its spending on technology by 17bn by 2005, creating another 500,000 jobs.

It is time girls saw the job opportunities presented by a career in technology, said supporter of the project Baroness Greenfield.

"To this age group, information technology equals computers, the toy of geeks. It's certainly not a career option.

"By equating technology with pop idols, ITbeat is providing girls with the excuse they need to investigate IT further," she said.

Girls interesting in competing in the competition can find more information about designing their website at www.itbeat.com.

See also:

09 Aug 02 | Technology
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07 Nov 02 | Technology
25 Jul 02 | Technology
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