Girl power gets boost as Accenture backs women in IT campaign
"The 'A' Star Awards are helping to raise the profile of IT and Accenture among female technologists at an early stage in their education - which is a key objective for us," said Annabel Nichols, Graduate Recruitment Manager.
The competition is organised by main sponsor Axios Systems, the international Help Desk and IT Service Management software supplier. It is backed by the UK Government, all the country's principal examination awarding bodies and a range of other organisations and lobby groups. IBM is this year's other key co-sponsor.
The initiative is aimed at encouraging more women to take up careers in IT and redress male domination of the industry. Less than one-quarter of UK computing professionals - and under 10% of programmers - are women.
"We are pleased to be involved with the 'A' Star awards again this year," Nichols said. "Accenture recognises the need to try to engage more women in technology as they are an under-represented group in this discipline.
"Diversity is an important issue for Accenture and we have in place a large number of initiatives which we hope will attract more women into careers in IT and promote greater diversity in the workplace. We feel the 'A' Star Awards are an excellent method for helping us achieve our aims in this important area."
Accenture's initiatives to promote gender equality and diversity include a mentoring for women programme, flexible working practices and networking events to encourage and support women in IT and business. The company runs the "Horizons" school sponsorship scheme which provides students looking to take a gap year before university with a unique combination of training and work experience alongside the opportunity to travel. This year, 50% of the schools being targeted for the Horizons scheme are girls-only schools.
Accenture also holds events and workshops at schools, colleges and universities around the country to encourage more females to become involved with, and consider a career in, business and IT.
Ailsa Symeonides, Sales and Marketing Director of Axios Systems who devised the 'A' Star Awards, welcomed Accenture's renewed sponsorship of the competition.
"It is tremendous news for female computing students all over the UK to have the backing of such a world-leading organisation," she commented. "It is particularly gratifying that Accenture believes it gained so much out of its initial sponsorship that it has decided to support the initiative again."
'A' Star finalists are selected on the basis of their marks in 'A' Level or Scottish Advanced Higher Computing examinations. Their tiebreaker entries will be judged by a panel of independent experts including British Computer Society Chief Executive David Clarke, Equal Opportunities Commissioner Rajinder Sharma and Mark Lewis, Deputy Editor of Computer Weekly.