The number of young women in the UK applying to start computing degrees in 2024 has risen by 10% on last year, according to new research. In total there were 18,880 applications from UK 18-year-old women to study Computing at university this year, up from 17,140 in 2023.

BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT analysed January deadline application data (released 15 February) from university admissions service, UCAS.

While male applicants still outnumber females in computer science by 4.1 to 1 this year, the gap has closed slightly from 4.4 to 1 at the same stage in the application cycle in 2023, BCS found.

Applications to study computing from all UK young people (aged 18) rose by 7% (to a total of 99,710). This mirrored strong growth in STEM subjects, with maths 11% up, Engineering 10% up, and physical sciences 8% up).

Computing degrees at UK universities continue to be attractive to students outside the UK. Over one-fifth of applications (21%) came from non-UK students, a slight decrease from 2023/24 (23%).

Computing is now the 7th most popular subject for UK 18-year-old applicants (and 5th for all UK applicants). This is the sixth consecutive year of growth for Computing applications from 18-year-olds with this year’s figure being 70% higher than in 2019 (and 113% higher for women).

BCS said the rise in women applying for computing was good news for the future safety and fairness of AI.

Computing degree can help change the world

Gillian Arnold, President of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said: “More and more young women understand that taking a computing degree can help them change the world and that is shown by these UCAS application figures.

For you

Be part of something bigger, join BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

“There’s still a long way to go until we have the truly diverse tech profession we need to ensure emerging technology like AI benefits everyone. That also includes creating a more inclusive culture across the tech profession itself.

“Diversity is more than just a concept when it comes to teams creating AI – reducing bias is a critical factor in all teams if we are to get more innovation in areas like medical diagnosis.

“People from every background need to be encouraged by the demand for computing and know that the tech profession needs them.”

Earlier research from BCS in partnership with Coding Black Females found barriers such as micro-aggressions, lack of flexible working and a ‘tech bro culture’ where some issues to women progressing in IT careers.