HC Deb 27 July 1965 vol 717 cc212-3
11. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Minister of Technology what steps he is taking to encourage the recruitment of women scientists into the computer industry.

Mr. Marsh

The Ministry of Technology is examining with the others concerned the need for further training courses to increase the supply of computer staff of all kinds. My right hon. Friend understands that the computer manufacturers would be glad to recruit more women scientists with the right talents and qualifications. If my hon. Friend has any evidence to the contrary, the Minister will be glad to consider it.

Mrs. Short

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. I am glad that he and the computer industry realise that there is a great deal of skill and ability among women—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—and not only in matters of science and technology? May I remind him that a recent educational survey showed that girls in secondary and grammar schools—and, therefore, the heads of mixed and girls' secondary and grammar schools—are unaware of the opportunities that are available for girls and women in science and technology? Will my hon. Friend, therefore, take this matter up with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Education and Science and see that all the available information goes into all the secondary schools?

Mr. Marsh

On the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I would say that she proved her point a long time ago, as far as the abilities of married women are concerned. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] Some hon. Members opposite have nasty looks on their faces. Currently, there are shortages of mathematicians and physicists in industry, so there is no difficulty in married women who opt out of computer work for a period finding other employment. But in the next two or three years we shall need between 300 and 400 more people in this work, and it will be quite a job training them. I hope that my hon. Friend's Question will have some effect in obtaining publicity.

Mr. Snow

Is my hon. Friend aware that it will be dangerous to rely wholly on the computer-producing industry to produce the necessary amount of staff for industries requiring computers? Is he further aware that last week I took a short course on computers, at the hands of a lady systems analyser, with, I think, beneficial results?

Mr. Marsh

I was only going to add that currently there are about 200 courses with some element of computer knowledge at the technical colleges and universities in this country. My right hon. Friend, together with other Members of the Government, is examining the whole question of facilities.