There’s no secret that more men than women currently work in computing jobs but what many people in the U.S. don’t realize is that this is by and large a global problem. A recent article titled CSIRO concerned with decline in young females studying computing details some of the concerns Australian officials have.
Asha Barbaschow writes, “The CSIRO’s Digital Careers education program has said it is alarmed at the lack of young females studying computer science at primary and secondary school, which is a national concern Australia needs to address if the country wants to meet the needs of the future workforce. In its report, Female participation in school computing: reversing the trend, Digital Careers says that social pressure, a lack of self-belief, and the perception that computer science is not suited for girls were identified as key factors influencing young female students.
To combat the social pressure influencing the decision of young females, the report suggests sustaining their interest in computing through intervention in years 7-8, which was highlighted as the time when participation and interest in such studies begins to decline. The report also found that while science, technology, mathematics, and science (STEM) studies have had a strong presence in mandatory schooling curriculum from kindergarten since the 1960s, computer science has not had the same exposure. The report did highlight that the percentage of women participating in STEM areas has been steadily increasing, however the number of women participating in computer science has continued to steadily decrease since the mid 1980s.
While university female participation rates are low, the report says that senior school female participation rates in computer education are lower still. “Student participation in senior high school computing subjects in Australia’s three most populous states, show a sustained decline from around 19,000 in 2007 to 13,000 in 2015,” the report says. In order to combat the skills shortage in females, Digital Careers suggests that initiatives linked to the school curriculum are most likely to be successful in normalising digital technologies subjects.”
At CodeREV we couldn’t agree more with the solutions outlined in this article: get girls involved at a younger age. That’s one of the reasons we’re so passionate about after-school programs and summer camps. Getting our kids involved in the fascinating world of coding and other computer technologies keeps their minds sharp and proves to them that they can do anything.