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Study: More Girls Than Boys Have Doubts, Misconceptions About Computer Science

Guest post by Liana Heitin. Cross-posted from Curriculum Matters.

Boys are more confident than girls in their ability to learn computer science, and more likely to believe they'll have a job one day in which they'll use the subject, according to new survey results from Google and Gallup.

The report, released today, is the second in a series commissioned by Google about K-12 computer science education. The first report found that principals and superintendents underestimate how much support there is among parents for teaching K-12 computer science.

CS gallup confidence.JPG

It's well-known that the computer science field suffers from a lack of racial and gender diversity. The new report looks at how students, parents, and educators perceive the value of computer science and stereotypes related to it.

It found that 62 percent of boys said they could learn computer science if they wanted to, while only 46 percent of girls said the same. And 42 percent of boys said they are likely to have a job in which they'd need computer science skills, but only 33 percent of girls said that.

The results somewhat corroborated those from a recent OECD report, which found that girls in the U.S. were much less likely than boys to say they expected to have a career in engineering and computing. That report, based on surveys from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, also found that girls globally tend to see themselves as less able in science subjects than boys.

The Google survey also found that females (including students, parents, and teachers) were more likely than males to have false notions about computer science, saying it involves skills such as creating documents and searching the Internet.

Students and parents also indicated that many of the computer scientists on T.V. and film fit sterotypes: Many said these characters were mostly male and white, and wore glasses. 

Gallup, which conducted the survey, looked at responses from a nationally representative sample of about 1,700 middle and high school students, 1,700 parents, and 1,000 teachers contacted via telephone last year for the report.

See the full report: Images of Computer Science: Perceptions Among Students, Parents and Educators in the U.S..

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