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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 July 2005, 08:11 GMT 09:11 UK
Awards to applaud women in tech
Image of woman using a laptop
Women are being recognised for their part in technology worlds
Top women in the field of technology are to be recognised in the first Blackberry Women and Technology awards.

The awards have been set up by Research in Motion, the company behind the Blackberry mobile device, and Aurora, a women's business networking group.

Prizes will be given to women who have been leading lights in academia, journalism, public and private sectors, as well the top female mentors.

The awards will raise their profile in what has been a male-dominated world.

"What we want is to recognise the progress and achievement women have made not only in the technology industry, but also in using technology," Charmaine Eggberry, from RIM, told the BBC News website.

"It is not just about women in the industry, but also women who are using technology to be successful.

"We wanted to celebrate that and, as part of that, hopefully we can make people aware of how exciting a career if is for women."

She added that in her job, she constantly heard from women about how technology had empowered them and changed their lives in some way to become more successful at what they do.

Bill laments

It is generally accepted that there is a greater need to recognise excellence amongst half the world's population - women - and that their talents are being underused and undervalued.

It is also widely recognised that the skills of men and women need to be equally tapped in order to be a successful global economy.

Recently, Microsoft chief, Bill Gates, lamented the lack of women working in technology and computer engineering.

Only 17% of computer science degree entrants are women; most of these are from overseas.

Many are put off from considering careers in the field of technology because there seems to be a lack of successful role models.

AWARD CATEGORIES
1 - Best woman in technology in the private sector
2 - Best woman in technology in the public sector
3 - Best woman in technology in a small to medium enterprise
4 - Best woman in technology in academia
5 - Best female mentor and in technology
6 - Best female technology writer
7 - Best technology company advancing women
8 - 2005 Woman and Technology Award
The difficulties of having to balance having a family with career aspirations also plays a big part in women failing to reach the board positions that many are more than capable of doing.

This is a problem that dogs science and engineering too, something which government-backed organisations such as the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology aims to alleviate.

"It is vital that women are involved in the use, production and growth of existing and emerging technologies," said Annette Williams, director of the UKRC.

"To ensure future success UK industry must draw on the skills of women, not least to enable greater productivity and innovation.

"The Blackberry Women in Technology Awards deserve the full support of everyone who wants to see a competitive Britain in the 21st Century."

The British Computer Society (BCS) found recently that 28% of UK organisations do not employ women technologists.

But there are signs that the trend is changing.

The BCS also recently reported that more girls were being attracted to careers in technology, a field which Ms Eggberry described as constantly changing and challenging.

Sixty-five percent said they found their computer lessons interesting, and 27% said they would think abut a career in this area.

Although the technology industries were less male-dominated in 2005, the industry still needed to do better job of marketing its attractiveness to women and girls.

The closing date for nominations in the eight categories is 31 August, and the winners are crowned on 27 October in London.



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