Number of girls taking GCSE computing falls

The number of girls choosing to take GCSE computer science fell to 16,549 in 2021.

The news comes despite the overall number of students taking GCSE computer science increasing, rising to 79,964 from 78,459 in 2020.

This is the second year in a row the number of girls taking the subject has dropped.

The number of female students choosing to take mathematics and engineering also dropped, however the number taking biology, physics and chemistry increased.

Despite the smaller sample size, overall girls achieved higher grades in computer science.

Almost half – 48.9 per cent – of girls achieved a 7/A grade compared with 37.3 per cent of boys, while 87 per cent of girls achieved at least a 4/C grade in contrast with 81.3 per cent of boys.

Think-tank FFT Education Datalab estimated that 2021 grades in Computer Science were at least a grade higher on average than in 2019.

In terms of higher education, the Chartered Institute for IT predicted in December it will be 30 years before there is gender parity in computer science degrees.

“It’s disappointing to see that the number of girls taking GCSE computing and engineering has decreased this year,” said Agata Nowakowska, area vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Skillsoft. “There are so many programmes aimed at getting girls interested in these areas, but we need to go further to challenge and eradicate the old-fashioned views that are clearly still very much ingrained in the public consciousness.”

She added: “It’s no coincidence that while most girls show some interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) subjects at 10 or 11 years of age, this tends to wane by age 15.”

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