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Girls turned off IT jobs by 'geeky, anti-social, overly masculine, nerdy image'

A leading industry figure thinks an industry makeover could be in order.

Image: Shutterstock/Family Business

WHEN IT COMES to attracting more women to the boom industries of IT and science, one leading figure thinks an image makeover could be in order.

The director of Lero, the Irish software research centre, said there was no reason why women couldn’t be as successful as men in computing.

“But evidence suggests that many girls are turned off at an early age by its geeky, anti-social, overly masculine, nerdy image,” Professor Mike Hinchey said.

Out of more than 7,000 undergraduates studying computer science in 2013, only about 15% were female, according to the latest figures from the Higher Education Authority. In the fields of electronics and automation, women made up less than 9% of all students.

Hinchey pointed to a recent European Commission report which said there could be a “digital skills gap” in the region that resulted in 825,000 job vacancies by 2020.

Girls need to be encouraged and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) made more relevant if the technology sector is not to continue to lose this vital talent pool at an early age,” he said.

Editorial Photographer, Limerick, Ireland , Munster Lero director Mike Hinchey Source: Sean Curtin

Skills shortages

In Ireland, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs recently reported skills shortages had appeared in jobs for engineers, IT professionals and scientists.

However the gender gap in the IT sector is by no means restricted to Ireland. Recent figures from Google showed women held just 18% of its technology jobs worldwide, while at Twitter the figure was 10%.

Hinchey’s comments came as Lero, which combines researchers from all the country’s universities, published its annual report. It showed the research centre filed three new patents last year to add to its portfolio of 22 inventions.

We are one of the infrastructural reasons why nine out of the ten top software companies in the world are located in Ireland; at the same time, we are playing a role as an important resource for Ireland’s growing indigenous software sector,” he said.

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Microsoft Jobs Minister Richard Bruton Source: Laura Hutton/

Last week an Oireachtas jobs committee report called for a €25 million investment fund to be set up for female Irish startup founders.

The measure was suggested as one of several “positive discrimination” moves that increase the small share of high-potential companies being launched by women.

First published 6.15am

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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