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The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is to spend £4m in encouraging more women to pursue careers in science and technology. It says the UK economy is losing out because women with science qualifications too often leave the field.

The money will fund a new UK Resource Centre for women in SET (Science, Engineering and Technology), based in Bradford. The goal is that businesses will use the centre support to make the most of the opportunities available to women in the sector.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said that science and technology are the bedrock of the British economy. "We need more people working in science, engineering and technology - that means making sure that professional women in these sectors are able to contribute fully at all stages in their career."

Part of the cash - £200k - comes from the Department for Education and Skills (DFES), and will be spent encouraging women studying SET subjects to progress into post-graduate education.

Annette Williams, director of the Resource Centre, argues that encouraging more women to work in the industry will help close a skills gap that exists in the science engineering and technology sectors. She said that women's talents and expertise are not being fully exploited.

Jacqui Smith, deputy minister for women and equality, said: "We need to get more girls excited about careers in SET and more women with SET skills employed to use their specialist training and experience in good jobs and in senior positions. And we need to work with business to make sure that women who take career breaks return to quality SET positions."

Last month, the British Computer Society announced that it was recognising, for the first time, companies and organisations in the UK that promote opportunities for women to take leadership roles within the IT industry. ®

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