Monique Morrow Cisco CTO

Cisco CTO Monique Morrow believes the perception of IT and science-based disciplines as "uncool" needs to change if the technology industry is to attract more young women.

Morrow made the comments as she offered her support to the government-backed Your Life campaign, which aims to encourage more young people to study STEM subjects and embark on technology careers.

Last week, the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, said that more needed to be done to attract girls to the IT profession, while women also only made up 7% of last month's annual CIO 100 list.

Morrow said: "Having worked in the IT industry for over 20 years, and been the only female in the room on many occasions, I can say with some certainty that we haven't yet resolved the challenge of attracting an equal balance of men and women into the industry.

"This week, a survey showed only 19% of girls would consider a STEM-based career compared with 51% of boys. The cultural perception of IT and science-based disciplines as 'uncool' needs to change if we are to bring these figures in line and ensure today's young women give serious consideration to IT as a way of making a living.

"The government-backed 'Your Life' campaign, of which Cisco is a supporter, is a great start. The more closely individuals and organisations from the technology industry work with young people at an early stage, the more likely we are to find and inspire tomorrow's IT professionals. It is our duty to educate them, not only about the current jobs available but also the exciting future possibilities of IT.

"As well as dominating our personal and consumer lives (e.g. smartphones, tablets, internet shopping) virtually every business now relies on technology of some form to operate. Consequently, a career in IT extends far beyond the dingy computer room, offering the potential to work in practically any industry and be part of shaping its future. It's time we help get this message out there."

In April 2012 Cisco was a sponsor of the Everywoman in Technology Awards and admitted to employing far fewer women than the IT industry average, prompting the company to commit to promoting greater diversity.