Females in computing: Understanding stereotypes through collaborative picturing

Tessa Berg*, Alexander Sharpe, Emma Aitkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
191 Downloads (Pure)


This study investigates attitudes and perceived stereotypes that children have towards female computer scientists. Research was conducted within 2 high schools in Scotland across 7 workshops including 96 participants. Stereotype patterns and social expectations were identified giving insight into gendered world views. Data was derived through picturing. Collaborative picture drawing, as a means to investigate multiple opinions, is a powerful activity that has the capacity to break down barriers of education, language and culture. By use of content analysis on 24 workshop pictures three key areas were identified as significant when determining attitudes towards computing as a career choice for females; gender stereotypes, role models, and media influence. The conclusion determines there are stereotype misconceptions regarding physical appearance, personality type, and digital ability projected onto young females. These can influence their academic decisions resulting in poor uptake of computing science as a career choice. We determine that Computing Science is seen as a male gendered subject with females who select to work or study in this field having low self-worth, a sense of being different, a sense of being atypical, and a sense of being unattractive We further determine that positive role models and positive gender balanced media influences can broaden identities in computing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalComputers and Education
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Communities
  • Cooperative/collaborative learning
  • Gender studies
  • Media in education
  • Secondary education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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