Declining participation in computing education : an Australia perspective on the 'gender and lT' problem
journal contributionposted on 2009-01-01, 00:00 authored by Julianne LynchJulianne Lynch
Participation in post-compulsory computing education has declined over recent years, both in the senior years of secondary school and at university. This trend has been observed in most developed countries, despite reported and projected skills shortages in Information Technology (IT) industries. Within the computing education enrollment mix, girls and women continue to be under-represented and recent years have seen female participation fall even more rapidly than that of males. This article reports on findings of an Australian study which explored secondary school students’ beliefs about and attitudes towards computing education and careers in IT. Factors that might discourage girls in particular from pursuing post-compulsory computing education and careers are discussed, along with broader implications for school education in an era when information and communication technologies are an integral part of our daily lives. Findings include the persistence among both boys and girls of inaccurate and outdated views of the field of IT and low expectations of both school IT curricula and pedagogy in terms of their relevance and interest for students. Many of the issues identified as discouraging students in general from pursuing computing education appear to have a greater discouraging effect on girls, and this is compounded by stereotypical views of the field as male-dominated and unwelcoming to women and girls.