GIRLS AND COMPUTING IN LOWER SECONDARY EDUCATION: The surprisingly unsurprising results of a Norwegian exploratory study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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The low percentage of women pursuing Information Technology (IT) education is a concern in many countries worldwide. This exploratory study is motivated by the experimental introduction of an elective programming course in a selected number of Norwegian Lower Secondary schools, now recently extended to include any interested school. Though there is a growing body of knowledge in the area, we believe this study is important to understand the situation in a moment of great change in the national curriculum. Given the nature of our investigation, we have adopted multiple methods to collect a variety of data and get an overview of the practice. The main reasons not to choose IT education include: the poor reputation of programming, lack of information about the course, lack of knowledge about programming and technology and what it could be used for, the impression that programming is not useful to help society, the negative influence of parents and friends, and the disinterest in programming. To a large extent, these results are not surprising in that they confirm results from similar studies worldwide. However, the results are unexpected considering the social and economic conditions of Norway. This paper mainly wants to act as a warning pointing out that despite the high gender balance in Norwegian society, this does not automatically solve the gender gap in IT education, with important consequences on the longer term for the job market.