Technophobic girls leave computing to the boys

17th August 2001 at 01:00
BOYS are dominating the study of information technology, gaining an upper hand in the race for lucrative computing jobs.

Exam results published this week show that, while the numbers of students opting for post-16 computer courses is increasing for both sexes, the proportion of males far outstrips females.

The advent of AS-level computing has prompted a surge in candidates studying the subject beyond the age of 16. Computing was the second most popular course for male 17-year-olds. Nearly three times more boys than girls took computer qualifications.

While girls outperformed boys overall at AS level, the situation was reversed in computing.

The numbers taking advanced general national vocational qualifications overall plummeted but IT GNVQ bucked the trend, increasing by 6 per cent.

A striking gender split in the job-related qualification has developed with 84 per cent of IT entries from boys, while 95 per cent of the health and social care entries come from girls.

In science, AS entries mirrored the traditional split at A-levels with boys taking physics, the third most popular male subject at AS, and girls taking biology.

Nigel Paine, director of the Government's science year drive, which launches next month, said: "Information technology suffers from the same image problems as science in general and physics in particular.

"But there are huge numbers of very successful women working in information technology. Their meticulous nature suits programming."

Teenagers continued to reject traditional A-level courses in favour of "trendy" subjects such as media studies and psychology. Foreign language A-levels dropped in popularity with some 500 fewer entries.

Julie Henry

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