IT girls needed

7 Mar 2008

Problems sourcing IT staff are not restricted to Ireland: it is a wider European issue and one which will need to be addressed by attracting more women graduates into the sector, believes the European Commission.

“It is unacceptable that Europe lacks qualified ICT staff. If this shortage of computer scientists and engineers is not addressed, it will eventually slow down the European economic growth and Europe runs the risks of falling behind its Asian competitors,” EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, told an EU conference yesterday.
“We need to overcome common stereotypes which describe ICT careers as boring and too technical for women and instead encourage women to succeed in this exciting, innovative and multi-faceted sector.”

The European Commission is encouraging more women to pursue ICT careers by instigating consultation this year on a European Code of Best Practice for Women in ICT.

The Commission also yesterday presented the findings of its ‘Shadowing Initiative’, which has been operating for the past two years and which sees young women have the experience of accompanying a female senior manager working in the ICT sector during a typical working day.

The ICT industry contributes to a quarter of the EU’s total growth and 4pc of its jobs but there is a shortage of around 300,000 qualified staff.

Although the number of engineering graduates more than doubled across the EU from 150,965 in 1998 to 320,950 in 2004, its yearly growth rate is decreasing exponentially from 60pc in 1998 to 10pc in 2004.

While the proportion of female graduates at university has increased in almost all areas in Europe, they are still under-represented in engineering degrees. Only 19pc of engineering graduates were female in 2004. In some countries, such as Austria, Portugal and Poland, the number of female computer science graduates has dropped significantly from 1998 to 2005.

An analysis made in October 2007 on 150 European companies in the telecoms sector in Europe found the average percentage of women on boards of directors was 6pc.

By Niall Byrne