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Women in computing to decline to 22% by 2025, study warns

Published:Monday | October 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM


New research warns that at the rate we're going, the number of women in the computing workforce will decline to 22 per cent from 24 per cent by 2025 if nothing is done to encourage more of them to study computer science.

The research from Accenture and nonprofit group Girls Who Code says taking steps now to encourage more women to pursue a computer science education could triple the number of women in computing to 3.9 million in that same timeframe.

Women account for 24 per cent of computing jobs today, but could account for 39 per cent by 2025, according to the report, Cracking the Gender Code. And greater numbers of women entering computer science could boost women's cumulative earnings by $299 billion and help the United States (US) fill the growing demand for computing talent, said Julie Sweet, Accenture's group chief executive for North America.

"The solution starts with education - we need to develop more tailored programmes that appeal to girls' interests, and take a more targeted and sequenced approach to encourage girls to pursue (computer science) related learning at each stage of their education," Sweet said.

Accenture and Girls Who Code identified factors that influence women's decisions to study and work in computing, including a survey of girls ages 12-18, college students, computing professionals, parents and teachers, and then used the results to interview more than 8,000 people to validate the findings. Researchers then created a model to estimate the potential changes to female participation in computing and calculate the potential effect on women's earnings.

The research was released during the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Technology, a conference put on by the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology in partnership with the Association for Computing Machinery. More than 15,000 people are expected to attend the three-day event that encourages the participation of women in computing.