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Should we be concerned about who is studying computing in schools?

Copsey-Blake, M., Hamer, J., Kemp, P. and Wong, B. ORCID: (2021) Should we be concerned about who is studying computing in schools? In: Understanding Computing Education: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Computing Education. Raspberry Pi Foundation, Cambridge, pp. 31-39.

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In the aftermath of national lockdowns, the need for digital competency has been made clearer than ever. However, millions of adults in the UK are said to lack digital skills, potentially causing many young people to miss out on the vast opportunities and career prospects afforded through a computing education. In this short chapter, we question whether we should be concerned about who is studying computing in schools. We begin with an overview of the numbers and social demographics of English students choosing Computer Science (CS) as a GCSE option. Of particular note is the underrepresentation of girls, who were amongst the least represented in CS compared to other GCSE subjects in 2020. We draw on various theories and explanations to explore possible reasons for unequal patterns of participation in CS. Our discussion includes changes to the English National Curriculum in 2014, experiences of self-efficacy, and the influence of family capital in parents and adult carers. We also draw upon social identity and science capital theories, and consider the lens of intersectionality to suggest how wider social inequalities and power dynamics can shape students’ educational choices and trajectories. Finally, we suggest it is essential that we continue to explore social barriers to better understand how to widen participation among girls and diverse learners in computing.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:101897
Publisher:Raspberry Pi Foundation


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