Advertising CS/IT degrees to female students in Australia
Lamers, D & Mason, R 2018, 'Advertising CS/IT degrees to female students in Australia', Proceedings of the 20th Australasian Computing Education Conference, Brisbane, Qld., 30 Jan 2018 – 2 Feb 2018, Australasian Computing Education, pp. 1-8.
Published version available from:
The Australian Computer Society (ACS) and other industry bodies predict a shortfall in university graduates needed to service the growth in technical IT job roles in Australia. This shortfall is exacerbated by the paucity of females both studying IT and working in the IT sector, particularly in technical majors and careers. One of the many reasons offered for the gender disparity in technical IT fields is the gender stereotyping of IT/CS careers displayed in mass media such as TV, games, film and advertising. Our study examines the advertising material promoting IT/CS degrees in Australian universities – specifically, the testimonials given by current and past students – to determine whether themes associated with females are less technically oriented than themes surrounding males. We also investigate whether gendered messages have an impact on the attitudes of students on the suitability of technical careers for females. This paper reports on the study findings: the proportions of genders used as role models in student testimonials; the attitudes of students towards efficacy in soft skills and technical skills; and the changes in attitudes towards technical and soft-skill efficacy upon presentation of gendered role-model examples.We found that male efficacy in technical and soft skills does not appear to change, whether male or female role models are presented; while female efficacy in technical abilities changes positively when female role models are presented, even when those role models are talking about IT ‘soft skills’. Implications for further research, policy and marketing in Australian universities are discussed.