Microsoft has made a $1m grant to the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to encourage females to pursue careers in IT.
"We are delighted with this gift and this alliance," said Bradley Feld, NCWIT chairman, and managing director of Mobius Venture Capital.
"We believe that only by working together with corporations such as Microsoft will we be able to address the need for a greater diversity in the sciences."
Microsoft claimed that it is supporting NCWIT to help address "critical shortages" of females in the talent pipeline, from getting young girls interested in science and technology through advanced education in computer science, computer engineering and related disciplines.
NCWIT aims to bring together many disparate organisations, from government agencies to universities to industry members, to help women get into IT.
The popularity in the US of computer science as a major for incoming college students has fallen more than 60 per cent between 2000 and 2004, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.
However, according to the US Labour Department, the fastest growing job categories projected through 2012 include data communication analysts, health information technicians and computer software engineers.
The most recent numbers for US employment in IT are the highest ever, up more than five per cent since a peak in 2000. In addition, salaries in the IT area have continued to increase by a compound growth rate of four per cent.
In contrast, fewer than 20 per cent of students who graduate in engineering, computer science and other technical fields are women.
At the same time, according to NCWIT, the female workforce is growing at a faster pace than the male workforce. But the technology industry has yet to capitalise on hiring and retaining women in technical fields.
"It is a virtual certainty that all workers will have some sort of IT function as part of their job duties, and yet IT enrolment at local colleges is down as much as 60 per cent, with enrolment numbers for women lower than in 1971," said Jon Roskill, vice president of US marketing at Microsoft.
"The need is greater than ever to find the most talented people to fill key jobs within the tech industry."
In the past decade, Microsoft has awarded 400 undergraduate scholarships totalling more than $5m. In 2005, the firm awarded $500,000 in undergraduate scholarships.
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