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Society's View of It Workers As 'unwashed Nerds' Stops Women Entering Industry

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"Nerds," from the film "Revenge of the Nerds."

A computer science professor and BCS president says many women do not pursue careers in Information Technology because of poor media stereotypes of Information Technology workers, combined with poor career advice and the difficulty some teachers experienc

Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Society needs to change the way it presents and views information technology (IT) careers if more women are to be encouraged to join the industry, according to BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT) president and University of Greenwich professor Liz Bacon.

She says many women do not pursue IT careers because of a combination of media stereotypes of IT workers, poor career advice, and the difficulty some teachers might have when trying to teach the new coding-focused curriculum.

"Most of the time, if you think of an IT person in the media it's going to be the unwashed nerd in the corner with a ponytail and sandals that doesn't have a girlfriend," Bacon says.

She believes the media must do more to present a positive image of the typical IT worker.

Another problem is many teachers are asked to cover IT topics but do not understand the material. In order to combat some of these issues, Bacon has created a network of senior women involved in the engineering, technology, and science sectors. Women involved with the BCS network will act as role models for younger generations to aspire to, and their success will be well publicized. More than 20 women have volunteered to join the BCS network, which also will support women returning to work with training and flexible working patterns.

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