Despite the phenomenal rise in computing over the last 50 years, the birth of the internet, and our ever increasing reliance on technology, women are still not engaging with computer science at the same rate as men.
This has been outlined in a recent report from the University of Roehampton, which reveals that only 9% of girls schools offer computing at A-level, compared with 44% of boys schools, and 25% of mixed-sex sixth forms and colleges.
The report shows that in 2016 only a minority of schools (29%) entered pupils for GCSE computing – despite it being a foundation subject on the national curriculum. The figure is even lower at A-level, with only 24% of schools entering their students for the qualification.
Things don’t fair any better in further education either, with the Digest of Education statistics revealing the percentage of females who took an undergraduate degree in computer science in 1970-71 was 14%. This rose to 37% in 1983-84 but gradually declined to 18% in 2010-11.
The game was tested on a group of 10- to 12-year-old girls who had never done any programming before. After an hour of gameplay, the girls had mastered some of the basic components of Java. The team that developed the game — from UC San Diego — plans to release the game for free and make it available to educational institutions and code clubs.
Computer scientist William Griswold, who headed up the project, said he developed the game because there is a lack of qualified instructors to teaching computer science below college level in a way that is accessible. Griswold and his graduate students decided to design a videogame that “completely immerses programming into the gameplay”. The aim was to keep children engaged while they are learning programming, which can be frustrating.