Study names UK universities leading the way in gender diversity in Computer Sciences

A new study by cybersecurity technology company, CrowdStrike, reveals which UK universities are leading the way in boosting gender diversity in the Computer Sciences.

The underrepresentation of female academic staff in the Computer Sciences is fuelling a vicious cycle in which young women are dissuaded from pursuing a career in the growing field and miss out on highly paid and in-demand positions.

Research shows that compared to other STEM subjects, Computer Science is lagging behind in gender equality – just 13 percent of Computer Science undergraduates in the UK are women. But with female role models, girls are 52 percent more likely to stay in STEM fields.

So, to find out which universities are leading by example, CrowdStrike has analysed the top 25 Computer Sciences departments in the UK to reveal which have the highest female representation among their teaching and research staff.

Aberystwyth University, in North Wales, comes in first place in the study with the most gender equal Computer Sciences department. A third (33.3 percent) of teaching and research staff are women. For student performance overall, Aberystwyth’s Computer Science department ranks 22nd in the UK out of 110 schools:

Interestingly, the university has more female staff members than male across all departments, with their most recent annual equality report declaring a split of 51.9 percent female.

Two further universities studied also have over 30 percent female representation among academic staff: University of St Andrews in Scotland (33.1 percent), the UK’s third most highly rated Computer Science department, and King’s College London (31.9 percent) – ranked 14th.

The Scottish government’s commitment to improving representation of women in STEM subjects is an important initiative helping to close the gender skills gap. In fact, the study highlights 40 percent of the 10 most gender diverse Computer Science departments are in Scotland.

The remaining five universities in the top 10 are in England, with King’s College London ranked highest in 3rd place overall. Another London university also made the top 10 list – University College London (UCL), ranked in 7th place with 25.6 percent female staff in its Computer Science school.

UCL’s innovative education resource, aimed at encouraging more girls to take up STEM subjects for A-levels is a testament to their mission to close the gender diversity gap in disciplines including the Computer Sciences.

If we compare the findings from the UK and U.S. the UK has slightly better gender representation than the U.S. but the difference is marginal – 20.1 percent of academic staff in the top 25 UK Computer Science schools are female, compared to 18.7 percent in the U.S.

However, the findings suggest that although positive progress is being made in many of the UK’s Computer Sciences departments, there is a lot more work to do to encourage the next generation of women into this exciting and in-demand career path.

The Cyber Security sector, in particular, is witnessing a growing skills gap. According to a study by the UK Government, two-thirds of cyber firms have faced problems hiring for technical cyber security roles. With only 15 per cent of the workforce being female, encouraging more women into a career in cyber security will help to close this skills gap.

J.C Herrera, Chief Human Resources Officer at CrowdStrike speaks about the findings, saying: “It’s encouraging to see universities in the UK increasing female role models in the Computer Sciences to inspire the next generation and help to address the growing skills gap in technology disciplines.

“Alongside the initiatives being delivered in higher education to improve female representation in STEM, the private sector must play a pivotal role too by partnering with trailblazing organizations and charities, as well as offering scholarships and innovative apprenticeship schemes. If we want to continue driving our industry forward, we must address these inequities.”

To view the full study, click here.

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