Boys outnumber girls by three to one in tech race

A year eight pupil uses a computer  (AFP via Getty Images)
A year eight pupil uses a computer (AFP via Getty Images)

More than three times as many boys take the computer science GCSE as girls and there is a “disproportionately low” number of women in science, technology, engineering and maths careers, a report revealed on Tuesday.

Speaking on International Women’s Day, experts called for more to be done to encourage girls into computer science, as research by technology company OKdo found that in the workplace computer science graduates earn a “considerable amount” more than their other graduates.

The report found that men still dominate most Stem-related professions, except biological science and biochemistry.

In IT engineering, the percentage of women employees is just three per cent. Only seven per cent of electrical engineers are women, and nine per cent of civil engineers, the report said.

While the number of girls studying computer science has risen from 2,500 to 16,500 since 2014, the number of boys taking a GCSE in the subject is still three times higher. It is a similar picture at undergraduate level, with just 18 per cent of applications for university computer science courses coming from women last year, according to the report.

But girls who do take the GCSE tend to get higher grades than boys. In 2020, 41 per cent of female students scored a 7 or higher, the equivalent to an A or A*, compared with 32 per cent of boys.

Previous research has found that a lack of female role models in the tech industry puts women off entering the profession. Mollie Gatens, SEO and digital experience manager at OKdo, said: “Knowing it is a male-dominated industry has only made me want to succeed even more.

“We need to talk more about the work we do as women within the industry, I hope this in turn will inspire more young women to seek roles in technology and science.

“I would encourage parents and young people to engage early in Stem subjects, as they are the backbone to every advancement we make.”

Julia Adamson, director of education at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, said: “Computing provides great career opportunities to young people. Great progress has been made, but more needs to be done, especially to encourage more girls and those from under-represented groups”

Nicki Young, president of OKdo, said: “I have been fortunate to have worked with some incredible women in tech, but there are still too few, and it is something I have always been passionate about addressing. We all have a responsibility to do more to showcase role model women in technology, and all areas of Stem, to inspire the next generation.”