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Lack of women in ICT is 'an absolute scandal,' says UK member of parliament

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The lack of women in information and communications technology roles is an "absolute scandal," said U.K. MP for Newcastle Upon Tyne Chi Onwurah during yesterday's GameHorizon Conference, reported by VG247.

Onwurah underlined an issue stemming from ICT training throughout U.K. schools as one of the main culprits in this ongoing problem, stating for every 11 males in a computer course there is on average only one female student. According to the MP, industries of technology and gaming are still being framed as male-centric and therefore not being targeted to the female population.

"The lack of women in ICT is an absolute scandal which shames us as a country," she said during her keynote. "But I'd also say that it's a loss to the country economically, and it's a loss to the sector. So it's a loss to the country in having a talent pool which is only half the size it could be.

"The Livingstone home skills review of video games and visual effects said that U.K. growth was being held back by a lack of skills in videogaming. It's no wonder if we're excluding half of the population. It's also a loss to women because they don't have entry to these really exciting and fulfilling careers, and also relatively well-paid careers."

Onwurah added that the lack of women in these high-paying technology roles is a primary reason behind the gender pay-gap that to this day exists between men and women.

"The tangible, hugely important loss is that technology will never have a position of merit at the heart of our society and economy if it is made by a narrow section of society. So to drive forward our economy particularly sustainably in the long term ICT needs to be a strong part of our society and culture.

"Given the economic, social, climatic impact of ICT, and given the challenges we face, we really can't allow ICT to be an exclusively-male occupation. Gender balance in ICT is a critical issue."

Her talk echoes the ongoing discussion of the lack of a visible female presence within the games industry. Last year, spurred on by the question of "why are there so few lady game creators?" numerous female games writers and developers expressed the difficulties of entering a male-centric industry.