Program Targets Women Who Have Left IT

Building confidence is as important as gaining skills in a new program that hopes to lure back women who have left IT.

Much research has been done on mothers who drop out of the work force, either permanently or temporarily, to raise a family. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 28 percent of mothers in the United States with children younger than 18 dont work; among mothers of infant-age children, the percentage climbs to nearly half.

Less information is available about the experience of women who try to return to work after a break in their careers. In fields where intense pressure is placed on participants to constantly update their skills, such as IT, this can be a particularly arduous process.

ThoughtWorks, a Chicago-based software consultancy, is piloting a new program, slated to begin in the first or second week of December, to get these women back into the IT workplace fold through a four-week training class with the potential of a job offer with the company at the end.

The retraining class will focus on getting the womens programming skills back up to speed.

"Someone who has been out for 10 years is going to have rusty programming skills, so we are going to teach them the basics of Java and other fundamentals the first two weeks," Jackie Kinsey, people director at ThoughtWorks, in Chelmsford, England, told eWEEK.

However, the program wants to be more than simply an in-and-out refresher course for women who have had a break in their careers.

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