Women in Computing

In 2018 women are over three-quarters (77%) of all applicants for full-time QQI day courses at Mallow College of Further Education; and women have consistently been at or over 70% of applicants in statistics available since 2015.

However, while this year female applicants are 90% of applications to Animal Care, 92% of Complementary Therapy and Hairdressing, 96% of Childcare, and a full 100% of Beauty & Body Therapy; just 11% of applicants to Information Technology courses at Mallow College in 2018 are female. This is the lowest female ratio of any course – 66 percentage points below the college average for all courses (and would shift significantly lower if the virtually entirely male cohorts of Solas applicants to Carpentry were included).

“The Computer Girls”, Cosmopolitan April 1967. http://thecomputerboys.com/?p=239

This isn’t a glitch. The percentage of female applicants to Information Technology is still an average of 11% for all applications for the four years 2015 to 2018.

And this isn’t something unusual. Department of Education and Science statistics for Leaving Certificate 2017 show that only 47% of higher level maths students were female, only 26% of higher level applied maths students were female, while despite outshining their male counterparts with higher grades, only 28% of higher level physics students were female.

The facts are that girls outperform boys in all but six of the Leaving Certificate subjects. But false gender stereotypes persist. Only 10% of higher level construction studies students are female, and girls only account for 6% of higher level engineering candidates.

Indeed something is very wrong with this situation. We are surely continuing to fail young girls (and boys) and to limit their potential and experience of every possibility if we mindlessly accept the strange fact that 100% of applicants to beauty courses just happen to be female whereas only 11% of applicants to information technology subjects are.

This isn’t happening by accident. Something makes this come about year after year. Something is driving it, and benefiting from the status quo; and meanwhile women continue to be marginalised in STEM education and labour market opportunities in a growing digital economy. Growth in IT jobs was the second strongest, with the largest employment increases for programmers & software developers and IT user support technicians. In 2016 IT jobs were a quarter of all advertised jobs.

The first computer programmer was a woman, Countess Ada Lovelace. The Ada programming language was named in her honour. Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was the creator of the first programming language compiler. She was one of the first programmers of the Mark I computer and was instrumental in developing the global business computer programming language COBOL. In the 1940s six female mathematicians (including Irish-born Kay McNulty) were the programmers and developers of the processor for one of the world’s first computers: the ENIAC computer. The Women’s Royal Naval Service (“the wrens”) were key to the top-secret operations of the world’s first programmable electronic digital computer, Colossus, at Bletchley Park during WWII. Adele Goldberg was part of developing Smalltalk and the key concepts of object-oriented programming – fundamental to modern computer programming and software engineering.

With 5M0536 Computer Systems & Networks (Systems Administrator) at Mallow College of Further Education students can specialise in industry standard and trending technologies in a holistic approach across the course – with sought-after employment skills in Linux server operating systems, database administration, object-oriented programming, networks, server administration, and virtualisation.

Entry requirements are Leaving Certificate or equivalent. Candidates should ideally have a good Leaving Certificate maths grade at ordinary level or higher; or a proven aptitude for computer science and programming. For mature applicants appropriate experience is considered in lieu of formal qualifications.

We’re looking for the new generation of pioneers. No need to check your gender.

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