The Scottish Executive has been accused of complacency in promoting IT as a career option for girls, after figures revealed that females are losing interest in the subject as they go through school.
Figures from the Scottish Qualifications Authority revealed that 36% of candidates who sat the standard grade computing studies exam in 2005 were female. But the ratio dropped to 24% at higher grade, and less than 14% at advanced higher level - lower than the proportion of women sitting these exams in 1999.
Defending the figures, Scottish education minister Peter Peacock said the Scottish Executive aimed to promote equal access to all curriculum subjects.
But his response was criticised by member of the Scottish parliament Shona Robison. "Simply ensuring equal access to IT training in schools is a world away from promoting interest. The minister's apparent satisfaction with the status quo saddens me and risks seeing Scotland fall behind our international competitors," she said.
Robison said the perception that computing was not for women needed to be tackled at an early age in schools. "Many barriers have been broken down in female employment but it seems that for whatever reason, when it comes to computing, girls are deciding to stand back," she said.