Men keep tight grip on computer science degree courses

Of the 23,500 applicants accepted for degree-level computer science courses in 2014, 85% were men, UCAS figures reveal

Men are keeping their tight grip on computer science studies in universities, a UCAS report has revealed, with over 17,000 men but only 3,000 women starting a degree course in the subject in 2014.

According to a report from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), women outnumbered men on two-thirds of degree courses, with 57,800 more women gaining higher education places through UCAS than men.

However, 17,300 more men applied for computer science courses than women, while 20,300 more men applied for engineering courses. In both subjects men made up over 85% of acceptances.

The report showed that women favoured subjects allied to medicine, with 32,200 more women applying for such degrees compared with men.

2014 saw a total of 512,000 students accepted onto higher education courses through UCAS – 227,300 men and 285,100 women.

Sarah Eccleston, director of enterprise networks and internet of things at Cisco UKI, said: “In the next five years the IT industry will provide 500,000 jobs. It is imperative that we are therefore positioning jobs in technology for both female and male students as an opportunity to engineer the future, and not just as a job in engineering.

“The emergence of the internet of everything and innovations in areas such as wearable technology are changing what a job in IT actually means. Whatever your passion, technology is increasingly going to be a part of it.”

She added: “We are making great progress in inspiring young females into jobs in technology and science, but the most recent UCAS figures show we need to do more. We need to keep educating students, parents and teachers alike about the opportunities STEM skills unlock, or we will face a constant struggle for female talent.

“And businesses have a crucial role to play. At Cisco, we’ve achieved a 50:50 gender split in our apprenticeship scheme simply by changing the language we use in advertisements and job descriptions. Considering the general industry slant is closer to 80:20 male to female, that’s significant.”

According to Eccleston, companies should look to develop links with industry bodies such as the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and local university technical colleges (UTCs). “These bodies offer numerous opportunities to help the next generation, both female and male, develop their technology expertise as well as inspire them to achieve a long and successful career in the industry," she said.

“Together, we all have a role to play if we’re to persuade young people that a career in technology truly is a world of opportunities. It won’t happen overnight, but it will be worth waiting for.”

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