The ‘toys for the boys’ perception of computer science

The Guardian has today reported that leading computer scientist, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, has warned that girls are increasingly shunning careers in computing. This development will surely just worsen the current shortfall of women within IT careers?

There have been huge efforts from the scientific community to address this issue, with organisations such as Futuremorph displaying the amazing and unexpected places that studying science, technology, engineering and maths can take you.

So, we have to ask the question, is it that women are generally less interested in the subject area or is it that the prospect of entering into a male dominated career just be too daunting?

According to the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, only 23% of the workforce in the IT industry is female, compared to 45% across the UK’s working population. Women account for just 15% of applicants and acceptances onto computer science/IT related subjects at higher education, and they are just 9% of those taking computing A-levels.

Although these statistics may make you believe that women entering into IT are already at a disadvantage, think again. Organisations such as Jagex have examples of many women that are pursuing successful and fulfilling IT careers.

It seems that not everyone agrees that careers in IT aren’t for women, Abby Millward works as a  Web Systems QA at Jagex and felt IT was the best career path for her “When I was finishing my A-Levels the two subjects that I was really enjoying the most were Biology and IT. I felt that Biology didn’t really offer as much career potential as IT did, so that’s why I headed for a career in computers”.

For many women working in IT, it seems that they get plenty of job satifcaction from their choosen careers. Sally Reynolds, QA Tester at Jagex reveals “I love my job, I get to be a big kid. I get to do what I like doing for fun, as a job, and get to do it well. It’s fantastic fun.”

Laura Watton‘s career in IT started from her passion for Art, “I took the Art route , throughout my educational years, because I just enjoyed it so much. You know, grabbing a pen or something, a crayon when I was younger, etc, and just going ahead and drawing. I particularly liked creating characters, and drawing favourite cartoon characters or comic book characters for example”. These skills have lead her into a successful career as 2-D Graphics Artist at Jagex.

Technology may have traditionally been about war games and male dominated environments, but times have changed. Girls are now using more technology than ever, whether that be to log into Facebook and see what there friends have been up to or to find out about the latest releases on XBox. It’s no longer a male world and women in IT careers are just as valued as their male colleagues. Whether you’re iPhone or BlackBerry, Apple or PC, the chances are that there will be an IT career to suit you and your interests – even if you are a girl!


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