Number of girls taking GCSE computing doubles

The number of computing GCSEs sat by girls in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has more than doubled in the last year.

More than 12,500 girls took the GCSE subject in 2016, a huge leap on the 5,700 in 2015.

Rather than reflecting a significantly more balanced gender ratio, the increase in girls is mainly as a result of the large growth in the overall number of students taking the subject. 62,000 students took the computing GCSE in 2016, compared to just 36,000 in 2015.

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Campaigners for more diversity in technology will, however, be pleased to see girls now filling 20% of computing courses at GCSE level, compared to 16% in 2015.

Meanwhile, the number of people taking ICT as a GCSE subject dropped by 25% from the previous year, to a 2016 total of 84,000. The ICT subject is more focused on skills in the day-to-day use of technology, and has a much better girls-to-boys ratio: 41% vs. 61%.

Girls who take these subjects perform disproportionately well, with 24% of those who took computing exams achieving A or A* (vs. 20% of boys), compared with 26% of those who took ICT exams (vs. 17% for boys).

However, achievements overall for computing were relatively weak:  just 60% of the computing GCSEs taken resulted in A*-C grades, compared with 68% of ICT GCSEs and 67% of all GCSEs.

The figures come amid a UK-wide digital skills shortage, with over half of the tech businesses that recruit digital specialists reporting difficulty filling their vacancies.

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“It is encouraging to see such a growth in the uptake of computing, and also some real progress in the proportion of girls,” said Karen Price, CEO of the Tech Partnership. “Demand for digital specialists continues to grow, and employers need 138,000 new people a year to enter the workforce in such roles.

“We must do even more to make the curriculum in schools attractive to both girls and boys, and inspire them about the huge variety of digital careers available”.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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