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Gendered Choices - Motivation and degree choices of Computing and IT students: a gendered analysis

This study investigates the gendered degree choices and motivations of Computing and IT students. An analysis of degree intentions carried out by the School of Computing and Communications as part of an Athena SWAN application, revealed a much higher proportion of women enrolled in the computing joint honours degree, where they study computing alongside a second subject (Q67), compared to the single honours Computing and IT degree (Q62). We carried out an online survey with male and female students who had completed TU100, the 60 credit key Level 1 module on both of those degree programmes in 2016/2017 (TU100 has now been replaced by two 30 credit modules TM111 and TM112).  Questions focused on previous qualifications, experience of working in IT (or non-IT) related jobs, career intentions, and confidence. The online survey showed that a higher proportion of men were already working in the IT industry, whereas more women were looking to enter into an IT related role for the first time. This suggests that studying computing and IT on its own may be more popular with students with well-defined career intentions, and already situated in the IT industry, whereas the broader joint honours may be of preference to those not yet working in the industry and seen as offering wider work and skills development opportunities. However, there were also examples where women deliberately chose a combination of subjects offered by the joint honours degree to provide entry into more specific roles, such as data science. Our findings also show that a higher proportion of women than men had a previous STEM-related degree. Nevertheless, some women expressed confidence issues, in particular about entering into careers in the industry rather than their ability to study IT. This suggests that employability in computing, even among women who have successfully completed STEM degrees in the past, or are already working, continues to be influenced by structural gendered barriers and behaviours.


Related Resources: 
PDF icon Clem Herman et al, Gendered Choices. eSTEeM Final Report.pdf684.61 KB

eSTEeM final report.