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'Girls perform better than boys in IT, but very few choose the subject' - PC Retail

'Girls perform better than boys in IT, but very few choose the subject'

There is a 'huge rise' in pupils studying computing overall
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Female students are still not opting to choose technology subjects, despite achieving better grades than males. 

The latest data published by the Joint Council for Qualifications shows that a minority of girls chose tech subjects, with just 1 in 5 GSCE computing entries coming from female students – a figure which tech recruitment firm Empiric claims falls short of requirements.

The percentage points difference between both genders managing to achieve A* - A for computing was 4.7. For ICT it’s even higher at 9.2.

Steve Brown, programme manager at Next Tech Girls and director at Empiric, said: “When we consider that the IT and digital arenas are facing a massive dearth of skills, the idea that over three quarters of female students choose not to take ICT and computing at GCSE level is quite simply concerning.

Girls that choose GCSE IT subjects excel

“Unless more girls are encouraged to choose this route, the sector will fail to meet the ever-growing demand for talent that is already prevalent.”

He also said: “Given that the test results show that girls are ahead of boys in terms of grades, the idea that women aren’t good at IT is made redundant.”

However, this year GCSE pass rates have overall fallen significantly by 2.1 percentage points. This is the biggest drop since O-levels were phased out 30 years ago. 

Despite this, more students are studying computing and considering pursuing a tech-based career. And there is keen interest in cybersecurity, which could help to fill the IT skills gap.

Kirill Slavin, UK general manager at Kaspersky Lab, added: "This week's GCSE news revealing a huge rise in pupils studying computing is no doubt welcome news for a number of technology related industries. This is particularly the case for cybersecurity – a sector that is crying out for greater access to skilled computer science graduates to fill an existing skills gap that is predicted to reach critical levels over the next five to ten years.

“The news today suggests that plugging this gap is not beyond reach. In fact, recent Kaspersky Lab research tells us that a large number of these future computer science graduates will indeed investigate careers in cybersecurity.

“According to the research, 27 per cent of young people are currently considering a future role in cybersecurity, with 47 per cent of these saying it’s because they would like to put their increasing IT skills to good use.”

He added: “There does appear to be a disconnect between young people’s aspirations and those of business, with employers failing to channel young people’s interests and talent in the field. Kaspersky Lab’s research shows that 56 per cent do not offer entry-level IT security roles; most promote from within (72 per cent), providing internal training as necessary, and a little over half (52 per cent) recruit externally for seasoned security professionals.

“If we are to solve this critical supply shortage, and secure the technology upon which our futures depend, we will need to ensure skilled graduates are presented clear and attractive pathways into cybersecurity careers.”

This initiative is helping to encourage the adoption of valuable technology skills amongst female students. 

PCR’s third annual Women of the Year awards takes place on October 14th to celebrate women in the UK technology market.

Image credit : pakize öztürk / freeimages.com

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