Statistics regarding A-Level results are coming through today in the UK, and they paint a discouraging picture for efforts to encourage more women into the tech industry. Of those completing A-Level computing courses, just 9.8% were girls. Additionally, the total number of students taking computing was well below expectations.
Bill Mitchell, director of education at the IT Chartered Institute, BCS, said:
“Today’s announcement that nearly 7,600 students in England took A-Level computing means it’s not going to be party time in the IT world for a long time to come … [that’s well short of the 40,000 level that] we should be seeing … At less than 10%, the numbers of girls taking computing A-Levels are seriously low.”
The figures come just days after Google engineer James Damore released a document which caused lots of controversy with many finding it offensive. Damore argued that Google shouldn't have special programmes in place to help racial or gender minorities, and was later fired after the company's CEO denounced the memo.
Such opinions are hardly encouraging for young women who might be considering a career in technology. Broader negativity towards women in tech is likely influencing the perceptions of young minds, leading many kids to see IT as a thing for men.
Stemettes founder, Anne-Marie Imafidon, also pointed out:
Girls often don’t want to be the only one in the class so they tend not to pick the subject when it is an option. Also, it’s often not even an option in a lot of schools so it’s an uphill battle but fortunately, a lot of computer science courses take A-level maths students, so there is a very viable route for girls into the course itself and related courses.
Whatever the the cause of the low figures, the UK has definitely got its work cut out for it; while some may argue that women tend not to be inclined towards STEM fields, 9.8% is a woefully low figure.
According to UNESCO, 29% of people in scientific research worldwide are women, compared with 41% in Russia; this shows that the disparity is somewhat smaller in some parts of the world, but attitudes in other countries may well be exacerbating the problem.
Source: BBC News | Image via The Next Women