Computer geek stereotype can influence career choices


Schools have been warned about the impact that the “computer geek” image can have on students’ career choices.

A research study involving 30 students has revealed that the vast majority thought that people working in IT adhered to the stereotype of being male, socially inept, scruffily dressed or wearing glasses.

Initially, just 40 per cent of the students, who were aged from eight to 15, said they would consider a career in IT. However, after they were shown a number of case studies of people working in the industry, this figure increased to 72 per cent.

A second snapshot survey, carried out as part of the research by Daisy Group, found that a majority of teachers thought that because students were so well acquainted with technology negative stereotypes were no longer in use.

Student Callum McGillick, 15, from Walton Le Dale Arts College and High School in Preston, who took part in the research, said: “It’s changed my view on the people who work in IT. I thought the people who work in IT were just young males but now I think the age range doesn’t matter and females can do IT as well.”

Fellow student Amy Dullenty, 14, added: “I learnt that there are IT jobs in everything and not everyone is the stereotypical geek.”

Last year, there were more than 100,000 unfilled IT-related job roles in the country, and the Science Council is predicting that the ICT workforce will need to grow by 29 per cent by 2030.

Colin Bell, head of strategic partnerships at Daisy Group, said: “On the whole, teachers are assuming that because children use technology all the time, it has positive connotations for them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the case. We as a nation, need to acknowledge that the IT industry has an image problem and pay greater attention to how we change people’s perceptions of IT – especially the younger generation – or the digital skills gap, which is already beginning to bite, will continue to worsen.”


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