One in four female Computing A-level students awarded A*

The subject saw an 11% growth in popularity this year across all genders

One in four female computing students received the highest possible grade of A* in this year's A-level results, analysis of the data has shown.

The data shows that the percentage of A* grades awarded to female students in Computing has increased from 17.8% in 2020 to 25.7% in 2021.

For comparison, 18.9% of male students received A* this year, up from 13.1% last year.

The percentage of female A* computing students is almost seven times higher than that of just two years ago, data from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) shows. In 2019, only 3.7% of female students taking Computing were awarded the highest grade.

The overall number of female students choosing the Computing A-level has also continued to grow, with a 13% increase recorded in this year’s data. The subject saw an 11% growth in popularity this year across all genders, despite fears that young people might not be as interested in IT-focused subjects.

However, while Computing appears to be on the rise, enthusiasm for the ICT A-level had seemingly stalled, with a 1.31% decrease in students taking the subject.

Despite this, female students continued to excel in this subject, with 23% scoring an A* in ICT – a more than two-fold increase since last year (9.5%). For comparison, one in ten (10.6%) male students were awarded the highest grade this year, up from 5.6% in 2020.

“Computing is a rich and creative subject which can lead to exciting and rewarding careers as well as skills which are in high demand from employers, and will help to address the digital skills gap," said Julia Adamson, director of Education at BCS.“We’re particularly pleased to see rising numbers of female students choosing to study computer science at A-level and as a degree and hope this will lead to an increasingly diverse workforce in tech industries.

However, Twilio’s developer evangelist Nathaniel Okenwa noted that “even if results didn’t go the way students hoped, there’s so much room for opportunity in the tech world via non-traditional paths”.

“The self-taught coding movement is really helping open doors and bring in diverse talent with new perspectives and skills into the tech world," said Okenwa. "Whilst there is still some way to go towards making STEM careers more accessible for all, there are many initiatives in place that will inspire the next generation of developers, engineers, and scientists.

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"Bootcamps, networking and finding opportunities to have meaningful conversations with people within the industry are all  just as beneficial as good grades," he added. "And soft skills like effective communications are often not as highlighted as they should be, yet they are just as important to young people's career journey as academic results. So those who didn’t study computer science at school shouldn’t write off the tech sector just yet, there very likely is an opportunity there for them."

Today’s A-level results continued to be based on teacher evaluations as opposed to traditional in-person exams for the second year in a row. Last year, the UK government was met with backlash after the algorithm used by exam regulator Ofqual to determine students’ marks caused 40% of results to be downgraded.

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