Gender and Ethnicity of Computing – Perceptions of the Future Generation

Eva Turner


This paper investigates whether computing industry in Great Britain is inherently discriminating against women and people of ethnic minorities. Using a group of students who have just completed their first degree in a computing discipline, I investigate, whether their assumptions and preconceptions about computing disciplines can project into them becoming employed as technical staff by the computing industry. The survey resulted in finding that a substantial body of students have firm ideas of individual computing subjects as being male in gender, and computing disciplines as being performed by mainly white men.

The paper further compares the gender and ethnic makeup of the body of students doing computing degrees with the same in technical employees in the industry. A large discrepancy in the numbers is noted. The paper concludes that many students are lost to computing in the step from graduation to employment because their own perception of computing together with the selection criteria of the computing industry act against the selection women and ethnic minorities which in return confirms the students’ perception of computing. Through this discriminatory process the computing industry loses important resources and produces gendered tools and information systems. The paper concludes that the industry has an ethical and moral responsibility to examine the way it operates. Future research direction is identified.