Identifying Australian high school intervention programs that influence 1st year female students to choose ICT degrees

Girls High school students STEM education Higher education Information technology Australia

There is an under-representation of female students in higher education Information and Communication Technology (ICT) degrees. For almost four decades, various intervention programs, initiatives and events have been developed to address the lack of participation. However, to date, we know very little about the success of these programs in influencing students to enrol in final year ICT units in secondary school and then into an ICT degree. This report shares the outcomes from a pilot study identifying the types of initiatives which are influential in encouraging female students to undertake ICT degrees.

Through the use of a questionnaire distributed to first-year female university students enrolled in computing degrees across Australia, the researchers sought to establish which initiatives the students had engaged in and whether they also undertook an ICT subject in their final years of secondary school. The authors researched existing ICT programs and initiatives that are specifically aimed at secondary school aged children in Australia. A total of 32 initiatives were identified, some aimed only at girls while others were aimed at both male and female secondary school students. Whilst there are many programs available to students, there is little evidence that participation led to any change in motivation to study ICT at university. Intriguingly, the large majority of the female students who undertook computing in their final year of schooling continued to study ICT at university.

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