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Girls In ICT Day: Gender Bias Holds Back British Girls From Careers In Tech

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Parents still think IT coding skills are more suitable for boys than girls

British parents are steering young girls away from pursuing jobs in IT, as technology careers are still viewed as being better suited to boys.

Research released to mark the seventh International Girls in ICT Day has found that parents picked traditional jobs such as doctor (24 percent), teacher (20 percent) and lawyer (17 percent) as the top preferred careers for girls.

In comparison, engineer (21 percent), tech entrepreneur and game developer (both 13 percent) all featured in the top five preferred careers for boys, highlighting that a gender bias still exists for children in the UK.

Girls in Coding

Girls in ICT

In terms of specific subjects, parents do recognise the value of studying computing, with 45 percent thinking it will be most useful after a child leaves education compared to 57 percent for maths and 55 percent for English.

However, traditional skills such as literacy (41 percent), numeracy (39 percent) and conversation skills (37 percent) are still considered to be most necessary for mastering future jobs compared to technology-based skills.

Indeed language skills (20 percent) are seen as more important than IT coding skills (19 percent), a concerning statistic given the level of digitisation now present in business. 

A gender bias again rears its head in this area as 22 percent of parents think IT coding skills are important for boys compared to 16 percent for girls. Similarly, general digital skills are seen as useful for 14 percent of parents with sons, but just 10 percent of parents with daughters.

Finally, boys are much more likely to be granted unsupervised access to the internet, standing at nearly three-quarters (73 percent) compared to 65 percent of girls.

“A major opportunity for economic growth in the years ahead will be in fostering our information technology capability for a strong digital economy, but to reach our true potential we need the skills of the entire talent pool,” said Eleanor Bradley, COO of Nominet.

“Parents have one of the greatest influences on their children’s future decisions, much more than they perhaps give themselves credit for, and I encourage everyone to help all young people – and especially girls – to consider the possibilities the tech industry has to offer.”

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