Over half of the world’s population is female; and yet one of the most widely used systems for collaboration, the web, has far to go in meeting the needs of girls and women. The need for more women computer practitioners at both professional and user level can be addressed by exploiting web-based forums created by women and focused on meeting their needs. Within the U.K., the formation of a web-based specialist forum for female members of the BCS has significantly improved both informal and formal networking of women working in IT.
Various influences on females starting from their childhood through to adulthood can encourage or discourage their participation in computing, both as users and as professionals working with computers. Consideration is given to the root causes for the low percentage of women entering the Computer industry in the UK. Various national and local initiatives to encourage girls to take up IT and to support women in IT, all with a based-web presence, are discussed.
The BCSWomen web-based forum is presented as a case study of how Internet technology has been effectively employed to support an online community of women in IT and to address breaking down the barrier that discourages females from IT. There are still many challenges and there is much to be done in achieving greater numbers of women in IT, but the community that has grown out of the BCSWomen group’s initiative is actively engaged in addressing these challenges.