More encouragement will be needed to attract girls into the IT profession, according to a BCS survey.

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, found that 79% of BCS members believed that the IT profession would benefit from having more women working in it.

Currently, women account for just 15-18% of IT professionals, a figure that has fallen significantly in recent years, said the BCS.

The recent CIO 100 was 7% female, slightly below the global figure of 8% which Harvey Nash reported in 2013. The recent CIO list however did not include the likes of Thomson Reuters Global CIO Jane Moran (top image), however, third in the CIO 100 in 2012 but who did not submit a questionnaire this year.

Gillian Arnold, chair of BCSWomen, part of the Institute, said: "The lack of women entering the profession is a very real threat for the industry and for UK plc.

"We need to support UK employers who struggle to find IT skills for their organisations and we believe that ignoring 50% of the potential workforce because of their gender is ludicrous."

She said the problem can be split into two main issues - attracting young women into the profession directly from study, and encouraging women returning to work following a career break to consider IT as an option.

Some 53% think it is difficult for women to return to a job in IT following a career break.

BCSWomen hopes that the transformation of the schools computing curriculum, which launches in September, will kick-start a renewed interest in the subject among young people.

Arnold said: "The new computing curriculum will open young people’s eyes to the excitement and creativity of computing. We would encourage parents and all children, but especially girls, to ensure that they take full advantage of the new curriculum and study computing to GCSE level, which will give them a real advantage in years to come."

The survey was conducted online by BCS. Personalised email invites were sent out to a random sample of about 5,000 BCS members based in the UK, as well as to BCSWomen (the BCS Specialist Group) based in the UK. A total of 771 responses were received.