23% rise in female A-level computer science students this year

Newly published data has unveiled a 301% increase in female computer science students since 2015

New data from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS) has revealed a 23% increase in female A-level students studying computer science this year, with record numbers choosing to specialise in the discipline.

There was a sevenfold increase in the likelihood of girls pursuing the subject in 2020 than in 2015; an increase of 301%, according to the BCS analysis.

The discipline’s total entries for both male and female students also grew this year, up 12% on 2019; while Ucas data shows that a record number of students chose degrees in the subject throughout 2020.

The most current Ucas data on applications for undergraduate computer science degrees in England for the 2020 intake (June entry point) shows that the gender gap has narrowed by 1.3% this year, and while female applications soared by 12%, male applications grew just 0.9% in comparison. This is the seventh consecutive year the sector has seen a positive shift in the gender gap, with women now comprising 15% of entries within the discipline, according to BCS.

Figures also show that more than 34% of women achieved ‘high’ (A-A*) computer science passes in 2020, compared with 26% of men.

“Computer science continues to grow in popularity and, crucially, the rapid increase in its appeal amongst female students, who are historically an under-represented group in tech. This should, in turn, broaden and enrich the pipeline to further study and employment in computing-related fields,” said Julia Adamson, director of education at BCS.

“However, female students only account for 15% of overall entries to computer science A-level, so there is still a lot more work to do.

“More students than ever before – 21,000 – will be going on to university to study computer science this year. That is really positive news, because the UK economy is increasingly relying on tech to turbocharge its recovery.”

Rebecca George, president of BCS, commented: “Female students are choosing computer science in increasing numbers and, crucially, have closed the gender gap again this year. It is essential that we turn their demand for academic study of tech and digital subjects into strong progress on diversity and inclusion when they get into the workplace.

“We need innovation in IT and tech to be driven by professional, highly competent, ethical and diverse teams consisting of talented men and women from a range of backgrounds – that’s why this trend is encouraging.”

Education institutes offering computer science studies can benefit from the support and opportunities granted by the National Centre for Computing Education, including Isaac Computer Science, the free online A-level learning platform, which has so far been accessed by over 20,000 teachers and learners from more than 2,200 schools across England.

In related news: 36% of A-levels in England downgraded by Ofqual algorithm


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