Education and career pathways in Information Communication Technology: what are schoolgirls saying?

Lasen, Michelle (2010) Education and career pathways in Information Communication Technology: what are schoolgirls saying? Computers & Education, 54 (4). pp. 1117-1126.

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This paper highlights key themes which emerged from schoolgirls’ responses to focus group questions regarding perceptions of Information Communication Technology (ICT) subjects in the Queensland senior secondary curriculum, primarily, Information Processing Technology (IPT) and Information Technology Systems (ITS). The 2006 focus group interviews comprised one component of a 3-year research project seeking to identify factors that deter females from ICT education and career pathways. Focus group data reveal that one barrier to selection of advanced ICT options was girls’ experience of junior secondary school ICT subjects which had been typically delivered by teachers with limited expertise and constituted by mundane, repetitive tasks. Further, while Non Takers of senior ICT subjects acknowledged the pervasiveness of ICTs in the workplace, they were disinterested in a specialized ICT career path. Hence, rather than undertake advanced offerings of little relevance to career aspirations, Non Takers perceived that they could continue to hone their skills on a needs basis and, indeed, were routinely and purposefully using computers in their home settings. A lack of understanding of the different foci of IPT (i.e. programming and databases) and ITS (i.e. multimedia and web design) was evident among Non Takers, with many singularly associating senior ICT subjects with programming and other highly technical skills. Both Non Takers and Takers (who in the context of the focus groups were largely Takers of ITS) expressed an aversion to programming. It was the creative aspects of ITS which had attracted Takers to the subject and they were, in fact, enjoying its authentic, problem-based design tasks. Many Non Takers responded positively to interviewers’ descriptions of ITS; the subject’s broader appeal is evidenced in growing enrolments since its 2000 introduction in the senior curriculum. Findings indicate that schoolgirls’ participation in ICT pathways may be well promoted through subjects that position and call for students to engage with ICTs as ‘enablers’ in diverse, meaningful and creative human contexts.

Item ID: 16278
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-782X
Keywords: gender studies, secondary education, pedagogical issues
Date Deposited: 02 May 2011 23:10
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130106 Secondary Education @ 50%
13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy @ 50%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939904 Gender Aspects of Education @ 70%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930201 Pedagogy @ 30%
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