Gender disparity always been something of an awkward thorn in the side of the IT sector.
The issue is one of continuing concern for the British Computing Society (BCS), which notes that only 19% of IT roles are filled by women. Moreover, the numbers of women in the IT workforce have been falling three times as fast as men since 2001.
Attempts to redress the imbalance, from ensuring equal pay and flexible working hours to encouraging young women to be interested in science and technology at school, seem to be having little effect towards stemming the plunge.
Fortunately, Dell has now stepped forward to tackle the problem with a ‘female-friendly’ website called ‘Della’.
The grass-and-sunshine site, which at first glance looks like it sells soap, spa treatments or possibly some kind of awkward medical procedure, is cunningly crafted to flog Netbooks to women based on the things they can do, rather than offensively-geeky specs.
Women, after all, aren’t interested in machismo technobabble about dorky stuff like gigahertz or RAM. What they need to be able to do, according to Della’s ‘tips’ section, is “find recipes”, “track calories”, “watch online fitness videos”, “create soothing slideshows of images and music”, or “even bliss out to images from NASA.”
Girls seeking further inspiration can turn to the ‘featured artist’ section, where they can read about real-life women who use computers. This month’s specimen is Robyn Moreno, “fashion expert, spokesperson and author of Practically Posh: The Smart Girls Guide to a Glam Life”, who is pictured pretending to eat a hamburger.
Perhaps inspired by the 11 year-old daughter of a besuited Dell executive, Della is hilariously clichéd and will doubtless ruffle a few feathers among females already working in the IT sector.
Dell's motives are transparent. Having seen Apple nail the consumer market with design and marketing, the company tried to reverse its ailing fortunes by offering computers in black and red, and not just tombstone grey. Pink was only ever going to be one step further.
As for Della, even if you bliss out and spill your cosmopolitian over your keyboard, at least you’ll continue to look good with a range of stylish accessories.