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“Office work” image dampens girls’ enthusiasm for IT studies and career choice, says BCS survey
A new survey from the British Computer Survey (BCS) into the attitudes of teenage girls aged 13-17 towards the study and pursuit of a career in IT indicates that enthusiasm is still being dampened through the technology’s popular image as a skills set for mundane “office” or “secretarial” work. This is despite nearly 50 percent of respondents appreciating its potential for further study or career option.
Dr Sue Black, a computer science academic who heads up the BCS Women Group, expressed concerns with the results: “Careers advisors and the IT profession itself are clearly failing to engage girls with a more exciting vision of IT as a rewarding and varied career option.”
According to the BCS, some of the findings are encouraging and suggest a interest which challenges traditional attitudes. The survey found, for example, that 27% of respondents would consider a career in IT and 65% found ICT school lessons enjoyable.
However, when asked to state the types of activity they thought a career in IT involves, the survey yielded a vast range of responses with general “office work” and “secretarial work” both attracting the highest number of responses at 17% each. The BCS says the figures suggest a lack of understanding of the variety of IT career options available, perhaps a consequence of inadequate careers advice or shortage of female roles in the IT sector.
However, Dr Black is cautiously encouraged by the survey which also shows an emerging positive trend in female attitudes towards IT: “For many years the IT profession has been dogged by an image of being predominantly male. I am confident that with greater persuasion, positive career guidance, together with better focus from the IT profession itself, young women could now overturn this”
To see a PDF of the survey results, visit: www.bcs.org/survey/report/girlsandIT
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