More women should work in IT

Posted by Andrea Petrou

Women are still falling behind in the information technology and computing job front, which could have an impact on innovation, standards body IEEE said.

According to the organisation, in 2009 only 18 percent of all computer and information science undergraduate degrees were awarded to women in the US.

It added that research by the National Committee of Women in Information Technology had also suggested things weren't set to change with predictions that US universities would only produce only 52 percent of the computer science bachelor's degrees needed to fill the 1.4 million available jobs by 2018.

IEEE pointed out that the lack of diverse perspectives could inhibit innovation, productivity, and competitiveness, and result in the US not having the professional workforce required to meet future needs.

In the current issue of  its Computer Society's Computer magazine, the organisation  addresses the important challenge of building gender diversity in computing through guest writers in the academic space.

Jane Chu Prey a programme director at the National Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education, said: "We face a great challenge, but one that can be conquered if we all work together. We need to recognise that to be successful, we must have a diverse workforce, and we all need to help build it."

Alfred C Weaver, director of the University of Virginia's Applied Research Institute, and a professor of computer science, also pointed out that the problem started from reception age and extended through undergraduate education and on to graduate school and industry.

"There is no easy solution or quick fix. All segments of the pipeline need attention," he said.

The organisation hopes that by highlighting the problem it will encourage more women to join the technology ranks in the future.