Female students lead in tech A-Levels

Girls achieved much greater success than boys in computing and ICT A-Level subjects this year, but they remain vastly outnumbered

Female students are outperforming their male counterparts in technology subjects, according to the A-Level results released on Thursday.

12.9 percent of girls scored a grade A in ICT, compared with 7.5 percent of boys. 17.7 percent of girls achieved the top grade in the computing A-Level, against 15.4 percent of boys.

But, despite their successes, far fewer girls are studying technology subjects. The computing A-Level was sat by just 575 girls, compared with 5,035 boys. The ratio for ICT was a little less extreme: 4,986 girls to 8,374 boys.

The British Computer Society believes there is a crisis in technology education. It points to falling total student numbers: 600 fewer students studying computing at A-Level and 1,000 fewer students studying ICT compared with 2006.

Industry association Intellect accepts that there is an issue with education but it says that to focus purely on technology disciplines is to miss the point. "What's important is the IT content within the course that they are taught," said Carrie Hartnell, a programme manager for Intellect. "Apart from computer science, maths, physics and chemistry — subjects that can have a direct relevance to technology — there's subjects like communications studies, art and design, media, film and TV studies, all of which can have a high technology component."

Hartnell says this doesn't lessen the importance of the core subjects. "Of course there are issues there and we have to address them," she said. "But we should be trying to ensure that we cater for the IT component of all courses."