Number of girls taking GCSE computing drops in 2021

by Jeremy

The number of female students choosing to sit GCSE computer science in the UK saw a year-on-year drop in 2021.

Female candidate numbers dropped from 16,919 in 2020 to 16,549 this year, despite the overall number of students sitting the exam seeing a year-on-year increase.

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“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 programs aimed at getting girls interested in these areas, but we need to go further to challenge and eradicate the old-fashioned views that are still very much ingrained in the public consciousness. 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.”

The number of students taking computing at the GCSE level has varied over the past five years. While numbers increased year-on-year in 2021 to 79,964, up from 78,459 the previous year, 2020’s figures were a drop from the 80,027 candidates who took the subject in 2019. A lack of visible role models, stereotypes about who pursues STEM careers and what they involve, and a lack of inclusion in the UK’s technology sector are just some of the reasons young women lose interest in subjects such as computing as time goes on.

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