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

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New figures reveal that girls are performing better than boys in their IT GCSE exams, despite only a minority taking up the subject.

The latest figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has revealed that the percentage points difference between girls and boys achieving A*-A grades for computing was 4.7 and for ICT it was 9.2.

Despite these impressive figures, girls remain a minority within technology subjects, with just one in five GCSE computing entries coming from female students.

Commenting on the news, 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.”

“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.”

“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. Instead, we believe that girls aren’t choosing this option due to the incorrect assumption of what the work involves, the variety of options available to them and what routes to such a career are.”

“If more females were aware of the fantastic and varied opportunities available through a career in tech, it’s likely that we’d see the percentage of female GCSE entries increase significantly.”

The UK government has said it is ‘committed to making Britain the best place in the world to study STEM subjects.’ The official government figures have revealed that the number of girls studying computer science has more than doubled. They also reveal that there has been a 6.3 per cent increase in the number of students studying science and maths subjects; and a 3.4 per cent increase in EBacc subjects (English, mathematics, history, geography, languages and the sciences). However, these figures do not give a gender breakdown.

The tech sector is seeing a worsening skills gap for the ninth year in a row. According to the UK parliament’s Science and Technology Committee, the STEM skills shortage is costing the British economy £63 billion a year.

Commenting on this skills shortage, Lili Osorio, Director EMEA & APAC Marketing at Crimson Hexagon said, “Exam results day always brings a lot of attention to the STEM skills shortage we are facing here in the UK, and after a significant drive by both the government and business leaders, it’s hugely encouraging to see the number of GCSE pupils taking STEM subjects has increased in recent years.”

“While we need to continue investing in creating the next generation of STEM leaders, the future of UK businesses doesn’t hinge on creating a huge pool of highly skilled data scientists. Instead it’s about equipping the existing workforce with the technology and know-how to access and interpret insights from data themselves.”

“Businesses have access to a huge amount of valuable information, and today the technology exists to provide all employees with the analytical capabilities of a data scientist, rather than keeping data sets exclusive to a small group of analysts who many not have the time and resource to support all departments.”

“By providing everyone in the workplace with the access to technology that enables them to apply the skills of a data scientist to their role, businesses can equip everyone, regardless of job role, with the autonomy to identify new opportunities to improve the bottom line.”

“Whether it’s developing new products and services or simply better understanding the customer’s wants and needs, by democratising data across the business and giving the workforce the autonomy to gather insights to inform actionable business decisions, UK businesses foster greater innovation.”

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