Abstract

Julia Yates and Anke C. Plagnol. "Female computer science students: A qualitative exploration of women's experiences studying computer science at university in the UK". Education and Information Technologies (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-021-10743-5. (journal)(open access)

(blog post)

 

The under-representation of women in computer science education courses is well documented, and the social and commercial need to address this is widely recognised. Previous literature offers some explanation for this gender imbalance, but there has been limited qualitative data to provide an in-depth understanding of existing quantitative findings. This study explores the lived experiences of female computer science students and how they experience the male dominated learning environment. Female computer science students from eight universities were interviewed (n = 23) and data were analysed using template analysis. Whilst these women have not been troubled by their sense of fit at university, a combination of stereotypical assumptions of male superiority in this field, and a masculine, agentic learning environment, has left them feeling less technologically capable and less motivated. The findings are discussed in terms of Cheryan et al.'s tripartite model for women's participation in STEM (2017) and we recommend that computer science departments should consider feminist pedagogy to ensure that all learners can be well supported.