6% growth in tech A-level students masks widening gender imbalance

Today’s A-Level results show nearly 16,000 students sat Computing or ICT A-Levels this year, a 6% increase on 2016. However, there is a concerning total drop in female students of 12%, from 3,733 to 3,302.

The total number of students taking Computing A-Level grew by almost 2,000 compared to 2016, rising to 8,299 students. This is the first time that Computing has had more A-Level students than ICT, which looks more broadly at digital skills and the day-to-day use of technology. There was also an overall increase in A* and A grade pass levels for Computing, driven by male student success in particular.

For the ICT A-Level, there was a decline of around 1,000 to 7,607 total students. Of these, 33% were female and 67% male, with female students doing particularly well at the highest grades – 14.2% secured an A* or an A, compared to 8% of male students. However, with the Computing A-Level gender split remaining broadly the same, and with a 3% decline in ICT female students compared to 2016, there is a concerning overall decline of around 12% in female representation across both A-Level IT subjects.

“I welcome the overall growth and congratulate all today’s successful students,” says Karen Price, CEO of the Tech Partnership, “but the diminishing percentage of female students is very worrying. The problem is that not enough has been done to make the computing curriculum more attractive to females. We need to put in place as a priority a high-quality, forward looking IT curriculum that is as attractive and relevant to girls as boys when applying for A-Levels. This is essential if we are to address our well-documented skills and productivity gap.

“The good news for  everyone who got their results today is that students of all A-Level subjects can progress into digital careers through an increasingly wide range of progression routes. These include industry-backed degrees which equip people for digital careers across every sector of the economy, and digital degree apprenticeships that enable students to earn while they learn with a blend of classroom education and work experience.”

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