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. However, the reasons for this phenomenon and its impact on their future academic and career choices remains unclear.
This project aims to explore the factors that explain female performance and participation in secondary school level computing with a particular focus on computer science (CS) exams. The study will use the National Pupil Dataset and School Workforce Census, complemented with qualitative data collected from school managers, students and school documentation. These factors will include student gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, their attitudes towards computing, self-efficacy beliefs, teacher qualifications and individual school computing curriculum, school type and geographical location.
Research will be focused on schools with high female representation and achievement, along with control schools, allowing us to better understand best practice. This study is important because it will impact policies and educational interventions to reduce the participation and attainment gaps between males and females in computing education.
This project is in collaboration with Dr Billy Wong at the University of Reading. The project is funded by the Nuffield Foundation and you can view the project on Nuffield's website here.