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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 05:40 GMT 06:40 UK
Scheme promoting IT jobs to girls
Girls using PC
Only one in five students doing IT-related degrees are female
A scheme aimed at getting more girls interested in IT careers is being launched by the education secretary.

Women make up just one in five of the technology workforce. The same percentage of those studying IT-related degrees is female.

Computer Club for Girls (CC4G) seeks to persuade girls that IT jobs are not "just for boys", and is being rolled out to 3,600 schools across England.

Ruth Kelly said the scheme would have a big impact on girls' confidence in IT.

"It is absolutely vital that we take every opportunity to help girls recognise the relevance and attractiveness of careers in science and technology," she said.

By targeting girls at a significant stage in their education we can attract them into IT at the right time
Pam Alexander
SEEDA chief executive

Some 3,500 girls have been involved in the pilot CC4G scheme set up by the government-backed industry body, e-skills UK.

Run in community centres, schools and other venues, it gives girls the chance to take part in a wide range of computer-based activities, from designing their own celebrity posters to creating a fashion show or mixing music.

Now that scheme is being rolled out across England.

The South East England Development Agency, which is funding the scheme, hopes that 150,000 girls aged 10 to 14 will be given a new insight into the possibilities of IT careers.

'Huge achievement'

Agency head Pam Alexander said work on plugging the IT skills gap must begin in schools.

"By targeting girls at a significant stage in their education we can attract them into IT at the right time by showing them that computers can be both fun and useful.

"One hundred percent of schools involved in CC4G pilots feel that IT confidence levels are improved as a result. That is a huge achievement.

"Our next challenge - after rolling this out nationwide - is to build the pathway from 14-years onwards with appropriate and attractive courses for these girls. And then address the needs of boys too."

E-skills UK chief executive Karen Price said: "We need more women to consider technology-led careers and to do so we need to show young girls what an exciting and varied career they can have."

Firms such as IBM, EDS and British Airways have pledged to support the initiative, but Ms Price also urged other firms to get involved to ensure that IT skills needs were met.

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