And the pace of change is incredible. As few as eight years ago there were no Android or iOS developers - because there were no smartphones! Self-driving cars were just a dream. And 3-D printing of prosthetics wasn’t even imaginable. Yet today, all those these sectors are thriving and likely to supply many of tomorrow’s jobs.
Last year we helped to publish the Careers with Code guide, which showed in one place the wide variety of careers that computer science can lead to - everything from art and music to medicine and agriculture. In Australia alone, demand for skilled computer scientists is growing rapidly.
However, if we look at enrolment numbers at our universities, you’ll see a more worrying trend. Dr Rebecca Vivian from CSER Group did a recent analysis here, and you can see that enrolments in IT degrees are essentially stagnant, and they are also much lower for women.
Author: Dr Rebecca Vivian, CSER Group. Data source: http://highereducationstatistics.education.gov.au
There’s no other way to say it: these numbers are disappointingly low. But there are things we can do to address them. Research shows that career perception, social encouragement, and early academic exposure can have a strong impact on the engagement of women in computer science and technology related studies.
These are the areas we’ve chosen to focus on in Australia, and we work with some great partners to try to turn this around. There are a few key programs we see making a real difference:
- Promoting a diversity of careers and profiling women in the Careers with Code Guide, and supporting events like Power of Engineering
- Supporting the implementation of the Digital Technologies curriculum with teacher professional development through our CS4HS programs and online courses from Adelaide University
- Resources like CS First and the FIRST robotics program which help to inspire the students of today with the possibilities of tomorrow.
With a cross-industry approach, we’re hoping to paint a compelling picture of what tomorrow’s jobs might be like - and along the way change these enrolment patterns so that all young Australians, regardless of gender, are considering careers with code.