According to a study by BCS, the number of women who decide to study computer science has increased over the past three years. The Chartered Institute for IT.
Looking at numbers from UCAS, JCQ and SQA, BCS found that the number of female students admitted to computer science majors has increased by 23% since 2019 — a higher percentage increase than any other major.
Julia Adamson, executive director of education and nonprofits at BCS, said: “The increasing popularity of computer degrees, particularly among young women, is remarkable and important to the future success of fields like artificial intelligence [AI]. The UK desperately needs a diverse influx of talented, ethical professionals to develop world-class capacities in areas such as cybersecurity, data science and AI.
“The gender gap in computer science is closing at university level, but it’s still far too big and we need to improve the 22% representation of women among technical specialists. Diverse teams make each team member a better engineer, better able to design and deliver integrative solutions that meet the needs of society.”
The UK is currently suffering from a technological skills gap, leading many companies to fish for talent from the same small pool of experienced candidates.
While many believe that attracting more young people, and especially young women, to the sector could help, there are many reasons why young people either avoid or leave the sector.
The largest increase in women entering computer science was at 18 – the age of the majority of people entering university – where the number of 18-year-old women entering computer science has fallen in the last three years has increased by 47 % .
While this is higher than the increase in 18-year-old males entering the subject – the number of males in this age group pursuing computer science majors has increased by 29% in the last three years – it is the number of men pursuing computer science majors at university level is still significantly higher than the number of women.
The number of women in the technology sector has been low and constant for a number of years, although there has been a positive shift in the past year.
According to BCS, which found that 27,235 men were graduating in computer science, compared to 6,450 women, male students outnumber female students by 4.3 to one.
Looking at data from UCAS, BCS claims that the number of 34,185 people admitted to undergraduate computer courses in the UK this year was 11% more than last year. Earlier this year, BCS found applications for the subject, which has seen the largest increase of any university subject in the UK.
BCS found that the majority of those entering undergraduate computer science courses this year are from government schools across the UK, with 2% to 3% from independent schools and around 8% from secondary schools.
Historically, computer science graduates have faced high unemployment, but government and the tech sector are beginning to shift towards on-the-job hiring, upskilling and lifelong learning in hopes that this will improve individuals’ digital skills in tech sector and beyond.