Plans energize women in IT workforce

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson on Wednesday announced a series of initiatives

to increase the number of women in jobs that require technical skills at

the Energy Department and other agencies.

Citing the work done recently by the Congressional Commission on the Advancement

of Women and Minorities in Sciences, Engineering and Technology Development,

Richardson said it is important to tap a workforce that will be more than

half women in a few years.

Experts have been warning that the shortage of high-tech workers in the

United States will only get worse. Today, one out of two technology jobs

goes unfilled. And in the next decade, the economy will produce bout 1 million

more jobs, but there will be no candidates to fill them.

"Women today — young women still in school and those who already are on

their career paths — cannot lose sight of the many opportunities in science

and technology that beg for their involvement," Richardson said. "It is

critical that we get more women in the technical skill areas."

Among his initiatives:

* A database for lab directors, contractors and managers to monitor progress

toward equal opportunities in the workforce.

* Aggressive outreach to recruit and keep women and minorities.

* More programs to teach hands-on science education.

* Mentoring programs with scientists to encourage more women to get into

the technological fields.

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