In Ara’s Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology (BICT) there is a strong gender imbalance in 2021 new student enrolments (15% female) that reflects the imbalance shown in the IT industry and in other tertiary learning institutions.
Studies have shown both that this imbalance is stronger in IT than it is in other male-dominated STEM areas, and that a major contributing factor is the perceived stereotype of IT being for ‘geeky male loners’ that is prevalent in society and in popular culture. This stereotype affects girls’ choice of topics they choose at high school and as a future career. They do not envision themselves in a role in which they don’t see people who are like themselves.
This means that women are missing out on potentially lucrative and valued careers, and the industry is not getting imbued with the perspective of half their client and user base.
A review of the current literature is presented with the view of forming the basis of a survey to be conducted using current and past students of the department to enable their perspectives to be analysed. Future work will be to investigate how high school-age girls relate to the idea of taking IT as career with the aim of removing the barriers to taking that path, and therefore increasing female enrolment in Information Technology programmes.
Arifah Addison (with Bernard Otinpong)
Arifah Addison is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Technologies at Ara Institute of Canterbury. Arifah gained a Bachelor of Applied Computing from Lincoln University and in her professional career she was a database developer, data and reporting analyst and applications specialist in the corporate arena. Since moving into teaching at Ara she has earned a Master of Human Interface Technology from Canterbury University, and her areas of interest are Business Intelligence and Data Analytics as well as User Experience and Human-Computer Interaction. She is currently a branch member of the ITP (Christchurch).