For women and minority managers and professionals, 1999 could be the most promising year ever -- especially in the fields of technology and professional services. That's the word from Man Jit Singh, CEO of executive-recruitment company Futurestep, which uses the Internet to register candidates. Several factors converge to create opportunities, he says. "The shortage of talented managers in the burgeoning technology and professional-services fields are spurring demand and helping to break employment barriers for women and minorities, who have historically been drawn to these fields. "Women and minorities are thriving in the technology sector, which has a business environment too young to have established biases." Overall executive demand in North America grew 12.7% in third-quarter 1998 compared with third-quarter 1997, says the International Executive Demand Index of Korn/Ferry International, parent company of Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Futurestep. Overall executive demand in the technology sector climbed 32% over 1997, says the survey, while demand in professional services rose to 13% from 8%.