Computer Science Should Be Top of the List for Young Girls
Before we detail why girls should consider computer science, as an educational or career route, let’s look at the current state of women in computer science.
Whilst research shows girls outperform boys in mathematics, reading and science literacy in 70 per cent of countries, they do not pursue these topics into college, higher education or their career choices. Even with projected growth of 15-20% for computer science job opportunities between 2012 and 2022; the gender gap in computing jobs has worsened in the last 30 years - with the clear majority of computer science jobs being pursued and filled by men.
Why, even when girls clearly excel in computer science related school topics, do they not pursue this further on in their education and life? A report by Accenture called ‘Cracking the Gender Code’ offers insight into factors that create either positive and negative associations with computer science for girls at the high school, college, and university levels, potentially explaining the drop off from science subjects as they get older.
There is a clear disconnect between the computer science industry and the message girls receive about their ability to succeed in tech organisations – which to me, is so saddening, as your success should always be based on your ability, not by your gender.
So, why should girls get involved more?
1. Problem solving skills
I think there is a clear link to studying computer science to increased problem solving skills. Every task, be it in work, education, or social life, becomes decomposed. Everything becomes a problem that can be broken down – you look at the symptoms, what could be causing this problem? This usually leads to a more concise and well thought out solution. These skills can be applied in a career setting – opening more job avenues.
2. There are more jobs than being a ‘geek back-end coder’ or ‘working in IT’
Unfortunately, the marketing strategy of recent decades have led to misconceptions about computer science. The idea of the ‘geek coder’ is alive and well – and sometimes appears as the only career choice for those enthusiastic about computer science. There is also the idea that you’ll end up in a basement like Moss from IT Crowd, which I think is probably an unfair depiction of IT departments anyhow. Whilst back-end coding and IT are perfectly fine careers to pursue, it is a damaging image to portray as it shuts out women (and men) to the myriad of jobs available, and the opportunity to make a palpable difference in various fields. This flows nicely to my next two points…
3. A wealth of career opportunities
Studying computer science opens a whole range of opportunities in several different industries, whether you’re creative or technical minded.
Whilst coding relates to both back-end (databases and servers) and front-end (web development), sometimes they don’t always appear particularly creative choices. Front-end can involve a transition into web design – creating graphics and gifs, editing imagery and video content for website use. A degree in computer science could open the door to such projects.
Computer science isn’t always about the coding of websites either. The world of computer programming involves more than this, and holds a wide variety of subjects to study and career choices. Computer science has so many tangents and sub-categories; for example, studying computer science can lead to learning about computer graphics and visualization, which is highly applied to exciting industries such as video games, animation and VFX (special effects).
4. You can make a difference
There is a belief that STEM-related professions are narrow, impersonal and unsuited for those who wish to make a difference on a human level. Whilst the jobs above show the variety of jobs and skills needed for tech, engineering, science, and entertainment based jobs - computer science can be applied to solving real world problems. Examples of these include the development of Artificial Intelligence (A.I) and health informatics – which is the use of computer systems to organise and analyse health care data, which can involve jobs in Academia, Government, and Hospitals.
5. Diversity encourages diversity
More diversity among computer science will result in more diversity in what is developed – for e.g. more females involved in gaming programming, could mean more playable female characters in games. This in turn creates positive role models and inspiration, which prompts more girls to consider computer science as a path.
And lastly, but not least…
6. There are no reasons girls wouldn’t be as capable at it than boys
I think this last point speaks for itself, but honestly, the sky is the limit.
Charlotte Anderson is a marketing enthusiast with a First Class Degree in Business from the University of Sussex. Currently she is working as a digital marketer for an engineering company involved heavily with social media marketing and content creation, and hoping to gain further knowledge in coding and website development. Having written many essays around the subject of gender equality and representation in the media, she hopes to convey the passion for the subject through her blog posts with SheCanCode.