Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Girl Shortage in IT Jobs

A lack of girls studying computer science at primary and secondary schools is a national concern that needs to be addressed to meet the demand for these careers in the future, according to a report commissioned by CSIRO and Intel Australia.

The report (http://tinyurl.com/h9egnh3) identified social pressure, a lack of self-belief and the perception that computer science is not suited for girls as key factors influencing young female students.

The report found that while maths and science have had a strong mandatory curriculum from kindergarten ever since the 1960s, computer science has lacked this framework for engaging students throughout their schooling years. The study suggests that initiatives linked to the school curriculum were more likely to normalise digital technology subjects.

The report found it is essential to sustain girls’ interest in computing in Years 7–8, when female participation begins to decline. One way to achieve this would be to introduce activities like coding clubs for girls, particularly in early primary and late secondary school when there is less social pressure.

Kate Burleigh of Intel Australia said that only one in ten graduates from IT degrees in Australia are women. “Technology underpins innovation in our economy and the jobs of the future are requiring higher and higher levels of digital literacy,”she said. “Over the next 5 years, Australia will need an extra 100,000 digital technologies workers, so it is vital that women and girls attain the skills required to meet this demand.”