Entering STEM in later life: examining the motivations of adult women studying computing

Herman, Clem; Donelan, Helen; Jefferis, Helen and Hughes, Janet (2018). Entering STEM in later life: examining the motivations of adult women studying computing. In: 4th Biennial Network Gender and STEM Conference: Reimagining Who Does STEM and Why, 31 Jul - 2 Aug 2018, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA.

Abstract

The number of female students qualifying in IT/ computing degrees in the UK has fallen by 10% over the past 5 years (BCS 2016). While most research focuses on young women entering the IT sector, this study examines mature women students at a distance education university in the UK. Our data showed a much lower proportion of women enrolling on the single honours Computing & IT degree programme (12%) compared to the joint honours or open degree programmes (25%) and we wanted to examine their motivation for choosing these different pathways. We found no gender difference in actual attainment or progression once enrolled, but our study showed that women were more likely to have reservations about confidence in their ability to study IT, suggesting that participation in computing, even among women who are already working, continues to be influenced by gendered perceptions and behaviours.

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