New research from Nominet UK highlights gender-biased views on IT careers

Posted on: 25/04/13

Girls in ICT DayNominet UK, the not-for-profit internet organisation best known for running for the .uk infrastructure, today announces the findings of its REBRAND:IT research with 2,008 13-24 year old students. Key findings of the research point to the fact that IT has a reputational issue with girls who view potential career paths as technical, male-dominated, and are left feeling uninspired by the subject at school.

Alongside and in reaction to this research, Nominet is also announcing its support of e-skills UK’s Computer Clubs for Girls, including a competition for schools, and the launch of its 2013 apprentice scheme - all to coincide with International Girls in ICT day.

The detail of the research shows that only around half as many females who have received IT training (7%) as males (13%) felt their ICT education was ‘excellent’, and again almost half of females (13%) compared to males (24%) report being ‘inspired’ to consider a career in IT by their teachers. Almost two thirds of girls (65%) report that their ICT education had no impact on their IT career aspirations at all.

Preconceptions about careers in IT are mixed: on the positive side, more females think a career in IT is exciting (17%) and cutting edge (36%) than boring (11%), but half (50%) believe that this career path would be very technical. On the whole, males had a more positive view of the attributes of a career in IT, scoring slightly but significantly higher on their perceptions as to the pay, working environment, opportunities for progression and so on of a career in IT. Interestingly whilst 40% of females felt that a career in an IT company would be ‘male dominated’, only 14% of males shared the view.

Less than a third as many female students (10%) report being interested in careers in IT compared to male students (33%), although female students do aspire to careers with well-known technology brands such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google compared to other types of business. More than three quarters (78%) of females would be interested in working for tech companies compared to just 13% choosing from a list including BA, Coca Cola, Ford & Nike.

Lesley Cowley OBE, CEO of Nominet, commented: "It’s great to see that young women are attracted to the idea of working for well-known technology companies. However, the overall image of IT careers still need something of a rebrand. A career in IT can mean much more than a technical role. For the benefit of the digital economy, those of us in the industry, education and government need to work together to help inspire and cultivate greater balance and equality in schools and in the workforce."

Karen Price, CEO of e-skills UK comments: "We know that girls start to form negative perceptions of IT careers at a surprisingly young age. All the work we do is designed to show them how working in IT is exciting, challenging and rewarding and developing their IT skills could help them pursue a career in almost any field from music or journalism to business or sport."

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