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3/12/2008
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I Smell A Reality Show

Geeky? Unsociable? Does this sound like you? It's how the European Union's top technology official summed up the current lot holding down jobs in IT. Her prescription for change isn't likely to win her tons of support, either.

Geeky? Unsociable? Does this sound like you? It's how the European Union's top technology official summed up the current lot holding down jobs in IT. Her prescription for change isn't likely to win her tons of support, either.According to this story, the EU estimates it will need 300,000 additional IT workers by 2010 in Europe. And the EU commissioner for technology, Viviane Reding, says the stereotype of IT jobs being "boring and too technical" must be overcome to attract women into the field.

In addition to elevating women to IT positions of greater authority and visibility, Reding also suggested girls and young women shadow established female professionals to strip away the misconceptions and other barriers, real or perceived.

I've always thought that nothing builds teams faster than isolation and the need to cooperate. We could send them river rafting and on to a ropes course (maybe a little too '80s for this crowd). Or we could just put them on an island or lock them in a suburban household, along with a film crew and a 13-episode contract. "They may be geeky but they overcome poor social skills to manage the network better. Together."

Easy to mock, for sure. Yes, men still outnumber women in IT on both sides of the Atlantic. Still, when I raise this with the women in IT that I know, I get an eye-roll or a verbal back-of-the-hand. They dismiss it as a faux issue. Their eyes narrow further when the subject of quotas gets raised.

All that doesn't mean that these "bring your daughter to work" days are pointless. Just don't expect the atmosphere of the New York Stock Exchange or a hospital emergency room. A lot of what happens in a data center is boring and technical. And the stuff that engages and challenges and requires creative solutions may not be all that interesting to the average layperson -- male or female.

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