Girls find IT boring: Study


Girls, who may otherwise be quite computer savvy, shun information technology (IT) as a subject in schools, because they find it dull.

Even after 20 years of intervention, the number of girls taking IT at secondary school still lag behind boys. Lately, the participation of girls has fallen at an even greater rate than that of boys.

Many girls and boys still believe that women are not suited to high level technical work in IT, according to an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded study. Julianne Lynch of Deakin University said the proportion of girls participating in year 12 certificate-level IT subjects in 2006 was approximately 30 per cent in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. Girls made up only eight per cent of enrolments for most demanding and most technical IT subjects like those focussing on software design and development.

Researchers from the University of Western Sydney, Deakin University and Charles Stuart University looked at what students in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria thought of secondary school IT subjects and the reasons they chose to study or not study IT in the senior years of secondary school.

Lynch said even those students with an interest in technology find the content of school IT subjects boring and irrelevant to their lives and aspirations. “For many students, their experiences of using computers in the earlier years of secondary school to perform basic and repetitive tasks puts them off from pursuing IT studies in years 11, 12 and beyond,” she said.

Many of the factors that have led to the decrease seem to have a greater effect on girls, whose interest in this subject area has traditionally been very fragile. Lynch said students failed to see the connection between what they were learning at school in the IT classroom and their use of technology outside school. “This is particularly the case for girls, who might have high level skills in using popular communication and leisure technologies, but often see themselves as being ‘no good’ at school IT,” she said.

The findings have been published in a book titled Gender and IT: Ongoing challenges for computing and Information Technology education in Australian secondary schools. — HNS