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Girl geeks lack good role models

Young women love tech, but avoid taking it up as a career because of a lack of strong female role models, research has found.

Girls love technology but need IT women to look up to for encouragment, a study has suggested.

Nearly three-quarters of the girls who were surveyed said the UK lacks female role models in the sector, leaving them with no one they feel they can look up to, according to the Dubit survey of 1,000 people aged 11 to 16.

The research was commissioned by Research in Motion (RIM), the creator of the BlackBerry Women and Technology Awards, which were launched last year to highlight female role models in a sector where under a fifth of professionals are women.

An overwhelming 90 per cent of the girls who were surveyed said they thought technology was cool, with 38 per cent saying they talk about topics such as social networking and mobile phones with their friends on a daily basis.

However, just 28 per cent have thought about taking up a career related to technology, compared to 52 per cent of their male counterparts.

Charmaine Eggberry, vice president and managing director of RIM in EMEA, said it was "important to create and celebrate female role models within the technology industry and give young women who are choosing their career paths, access to their inspirational stories."

Across both genders, however, 43 per cent of respondents said they wouldn't work in the tech sector because it was not exciting, while 30 per cent said it was "too geeky" for them. And 43 per cent said they simply didn't learn enough about the industry at school from their guidance counsellors.

But the high pay usually earned by IT professionals could be a draw, as three-quarters of the girls and boys surveyed said a big salary would be enough for them to take a look at a career in the sector.

"There is still a lack of understanding about the phenomenal opportunities a career in or associated with technology has to offer," said Eggberry. "The technology industry and current employees of the sector need to work together to highlight the great opportunities that technology jobs can provide."

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