Addressing Gender Imbalance in Computing Science Education

By Dr Matthew Barr, Centre for Computing Science Education, University of Glasgow

11 June 2020

On 14 May, the University of Glasgow, with support from the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA), hosted an online workshop that looked at how the gender imbalance in Computing Science education might be addressed.

Bringing together representatives from schools, universities, and industry, the workshop was split into three breakout sessions.

In the first breakout session, the gender balance at participants’ institutions was discussed, in addition to any initiatives that had been undertaken to improve it. Groups then shared summaries of their discussion with the wider group.

In the second session, each group was allocated a short paper describing a successful initiative to address gender imbalance. Each group discussed their paper and then reported back on what, if anything, could be learned from the initiatives described.

In the final session, each group was asked to work up one of the ideas or themes that had emerged during the previous discussions. These were:

  • How can we link existing networks to utilise their resources?
  • Addressing the challenges of bringing Computing Science into early years learning.
  • Computing Science: A PR Issue?
  • Can broader, more applied projects get girls motivated more?
  • Developing social links and challenging stereotypes.

These were detailed in a summary document, which will form the basis of plans for future work, to be published on the Centre for Computing Science Education’s website in due course.

With over fifty participants, the discussion was both varied and insightful. I’d like to thank all who contributed on the day and especially those who have indicated that they want to continue working on this issue together. Around 30 participants signed up to continue the conversation, and the plan is for us to come together as a working group, tasked with making some of these brilliant ideas a reality.


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