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Exploring female performance and participation in computing education

A new research project jointly led by the School of Education, Communication & Society will explore the factors that influence female performance and participation in secondary school level computing education.

Children working at a row of computers

Researchers are undertaking a new three year project to understand and address the underperformance and uptake of females in secondary school level computing in England.

Research into computing education has shown that females are poorly represented in computer science qualifications, such as the recently introduced computer science GCSE.

More recently, data has emerged to show females underperform compared to males in computer science, when attainment in other subjects is controlled for.

Dr Peter Kemp in the School of Education, Communication & Society at King's will lead the project in collaboration with Dr Billy Wong at the University of Reading. The project starts in March 2021 and will last three years with almost £250,000 of funding from the Nuffield Foundation.

Our aim is to look for common factors that predict strong female representation, so that schools can learn from each other– Dr Peter Kemp, School of Education, Communication & Society

The research team will explore factors including student gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, their attitudes towards computing, self-efficacy beliefs, teacher qualifications and individual school computing curriculum, school type and geographical location.

Dr Peter Kemp, who also leads the Computing PGCE course at King's, explains why this work is so important. He said:

"We are very excited to be undertaking this Nuffield funded project. Female participation in computing education is an ongoing concern in England. There exist many examples of good practice. Our aim is to look for common factors that predict strong female representation, so that schools can learn from each other."

"More recently, our work has noted the underperformance of girls in computer science. We need to better understand what causes this and look for curricula and pedagogy which are more equitable for females and other demographic groups."

You can learn more about the project's aims and methods on the project page.

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Peter Kemp

Peter Kemp

Lecturer in Computing Education