13 August 2020

Record numbers of female students took Computer Science A-level this year, with an increase of 23% on 2019, new figures show. Female students were seven times more likely to choose Computer Science in 2020 than they were in 2015; a 301% increase according to analysis of A-level results data by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. Overall entries for A-level Computer Science also rose this year, up by 12%, while a record number of students were also placed on Computer Science degree courses through UCAS.

The latest UCAS data on applications for undergraduate computer science degrees in England for the 2020 intake (June entry point) shows that the gender gap has narrowed by 1.3% from 2019 to 2020 and that applications from females have increased by 12% compared to 0.9% for males.

The gender gap in computer science has closed for the seventh year in succession and women now make up 15% of all entries to the subject, the professional body for IT found. Over 34% of women achieved 'high' (A-A*) Computer Science passes in 2020, compared with 26% of men.

Julia Adamson, Director of Education at BCS said: "Computer Science continues to grow in popularity and, crucially, to rapidly increase its appeal amongst female students, who are historically an under-represented group in tech. This should, in turn, broaden and enrich the pipeline to further study and employment in computing-related fields. However, female students only account for 15% of overall entries to Computer Science A-level, so there is still a lot more work to do.

"More students than ever before - 21,000 - will be going on to university to study computer science this year. That is really positive news, because the UK economy is increasingly relying on tech to turbocharge its recovery."

Rebecca George, President of BCS said: "Female students are choosing computer science in increasing numbers and, crucially, have closed the gender gap again this year. It is essential that we turn their demand for academic study of tech and digital subjects into strong progress on diversity and inclusion when they get to the workplace.

"We need innovation in IT and tech to be driven by professional, highly competent, ethical and diverse teams consisting of talented men and women from a range of backgrounds - that's why this trend is so encouraging."

Schools and colleges offering computer science can take advantage of the support on offer from the National Centre for Computing Education, including Isaac Computer Science the free online learning platform for A-level Computer Science, which has been accessed by over 20,000 learners and teachers from over 2200 schools in England.

The NCCE was launched in November 2018 and is a consortium made up of STEM Learning, Raspberry Pi Foundation and BCS. It aims to increase the number of pupils in schools and colleges who study computer science at GCSE and A-Level, particularly girls, and those from disadvantaged areas.

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