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Women are shunning careers in IT networking because they think it is too nerdy.

A lack of strong female role models and a perception that women are less able to undertake technical tasks than men also contribute to a massive under-representation of females in network engineering jobs.

Even so, the number of female networking engineers in Western Europe is set to double by 2004, according to an IDC study commissioned by Cisco.

At the end of last year, there were around 42,000 females (5.6 per cent) among the ranks of an estimated 750,000 networking engineers in Western Europe. France was the most egalitarian country with one in eight females among skilled net workers, three times higher than Austria.

By 2004, almost 94,000 women in Western Europe will be working as Internet networking engineers, whose ranks by then will be an estimated 1.4 million strong.

This is not nearly enough to offset the networking skills shortage, which is expected to exceed 500,000 in Western Europe by 2004.

Report co-author Marianne Kolding said education can attract more women into networking but retention of women already in the profession was equally important. ®

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