Where are the girls in computing?

As a teacher you will always be reflecting on lessons, thinking about how the session went and how it could be improved further. As much as you may often change the way you teach, there will be times that you will need to investigate further into a certain issue that perhaps occurs frequently. A recent assignment for my teacher training was action research, we had to think about something that affects our subject specialism. It did not take me long to think about this one!

My area of practice is ICT and studying my degree from 2008 to 2013, I noticed that there always seemed to be far more male students than female students on each course. E-skills who are ‘The Tech Partnership’ for the growing network of employers, are looking to acquire more females into the world of IT and conducted a report called ‘The Women in IT scorecard’. Their report shows that ‘In 2013, within the IT sector itself little more than one in ten (11%) IT specialists were women’ and ‘Of the 753,000 people working in the IT sector at this time 2013, just one in five (20%) were women’. It appears that in today’s world the quantity of female to male in the IT industry is very low and is still dropping.

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Studying IT at degree level, I was introduced to the history of Ada Lovelace; this lady was the first computer programmer and a mathematician. Looking back to the 1800s, mathematicians were only seen to be male and females back then were only ever seen as working in the home and looking after their husbands. The BBC had recently designed a website called ‘Make it digital’ and has teamed up with the Open University. (OpenLearn, 2015), they show a wide range of information about women in computing and also have developed an interesting clip about Ada Lovelace (BBC, 2015).

The name ‘Computing’ seems to deter girls from studying the subject at school because they do not appear to like the coding part of the course. To support this statement, the BBC recently aired two episodes called ‘Girls can code’ that introduces girls to coding. This gives girls a greater understanding what coding is about and to encourage them to give it a try. Women working in the IT industry could come into schools to talk to girls about the job itself and show them how interesting it can be. The IT sector needs to encourage women into the industry today and ensure that they are just as valued as men.

So what can we do in education to support females more?

1. We need to encourage girls that all roads are open to them including ICT
2. Tech-minded girls should get together more and share ideas. There could be clubs in schools to promote girls to code and support each other.
3. More female STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) leaders could also become great role models for girl students.

These are my views only.

Image from the Open University

This blog was recently published in the UKEdChat  2016

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