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A study of girls and computer science studies.

Why girls do not study computer science at school

Less than 30% of girls in Europe have studied computer science in school. The demand for tech jobs is growing, rising in the UK by 42% between 2019 and 2021 while computer science or informatics is only taught as a mandatory, stand-alone primary school subject in 12 of the 37 countries that the Eurydice network comprises, a survey commissioned by Google shows.

The survey comprises seven countries: UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain,. France, Poland and Romania.

Understanding the factors that influence girls’ attitudes and decisions around computer science is critical. It is also important to consider that instead of aiming to get all girls interested in computer science, the focus should be on providing tools and knowledge for all young people to make informed decisions about their education, the study says.

Google commissioned cultural insights partner Canvas8 to make the survey to better understand what prevents girls from choosing computer science as a school subject or university path.

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Computer science is only taught as a required primary school subject in 12 of the 37 countries that are part of Eurydice, the network for education systems in Europe.

Google says a new study based on interviews and surveys with more than 3,000 students and education leaders across Europe, identifies six key barriers impacting the participation of girls in computer science studies:

  1. Computer science is often perceived as an isolated subject, rather than a skill to develop. When integrated with other subjects, though, 41% of girls are interested in studying computer science.
  2. Role models are important, but it’s not just about having more of them. Girls and young women need to be exposed to a fair and varied representation of relatable identities (i.e. age, gender, sexual orientation, race, attainment, and ability) throughout the education pipeline.
  3. Teachers aren’t getting the support they need to engage students. Educators often aren’t equipped with the depth of knowledge, resources or time needed to teach computer science effectively. Approximately two thirds of European education systems at lower secondary level employ teachers with specialties outside of computer science to teach the subject.
  4. There’s a disconnect between what students learn in school and what computer science looks like in everyday life. Students aren’t aware how computer science can be useful across other subjects and their interests.
  5. Parents, who are extremely influential to their children’ s success, often struggle to support them. Many parents do not understand what computer science is and don’t feel confident enough to talk with their children about it.
  6. Peer networks in computer science are limited. For girls in particular, peer support is crucial in building the confidence they need in their learning. 20% of the students surveyed in France and Romania expressed they would feel more confident in their ability to learn computer science if more of their friends did it.
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The UK has the lowest percentage (14%) of girls who have studied computer science, whilst Spain has the highest percentage (28%) compared to all other markets. France har 24%, Romania 21%, Italy 20%, Poland 19% and Ireland 17%.

Looking at girls’  interest in computer science subjects, girls from Spain had the highest percentage of interest (33%) whilst girls from the UK had the lowest percentage of interest (15%). Italy had 28%, France 26%, Poland 24%, Romania 22% and Ireland 21%.

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