Children's Interest in a CS Career: Exploring Age, Gender, Computer Interests, Programming Experience and Stereotypes

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Abstract

Background and Context. Increasing gender diversity in the field of Computer Science (CS) benefits the economy as well as gender equality. However, several obstacles - including underdeveloped CS interests, lack of programming experience, and a misfit with the stereotypes of computer scientists - prevent women from entering the field. Although these barriers develop from an early age, research focused on children is limited. Furthermore, limited work is done within European countries. Objectives. In this study, we research the interest children aged 7 to 14 have in a CS career. Additionally, we look into whether children with different characteristics have a different interest in CS. As such our research question: How does children's interest in a CS career differ based on their a) age, b) gender, c) computer interests, d) programming experience, and e) stereotypical beliefs? Method. We collected data from 200 children in a science museum located in the Netherlands. We gathered data on their gender, age, computer interests, programming experience, stereotypical beliefs and interest in becoming a programmer - as representative of a CS career. We used self-reported closed questions and reduced-length Child Implicit Association Tests. Findings. In general, the participating children are not interested in a CS career. We did find several characteristics related to a higher interest in a CS career: being a boy, having an interest in computers or video gaming, gaining programming experience at home or at an out-of-school activity, and the belief that programmers are social. Implications. To increase the participation of women in CS, we suggest motivating girls more to engage in computer and programming activities - especially out-of-school activities - while ensuring that these activities are gender inclusive.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICER 2023 - Proceedings of the 2023 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research V.1
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Pages245-255
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781450399760
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event19th Annual ACM International Computing Education Research Conference, ICER 2023 - Chicago, United States
Duration: 7 Aug 202311 Aug 2023

Publication series

NameICER 2023 - Proceedings of the 2023 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research V.1

Conference

Conference19th Annual ACM International Computing Education Research Conference, ICER 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityChicago
Period7/08/2311/08/23

Keywords

  • age
  • career orientation
  • computer interests
  • computing
  • gender
  • programming experience
  • stereotype

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