Essential factors that affect students’ choices to study computer science: gender differences
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In this paper, an essential aspect regarding the multilateral issue of under-representation of women in Computer Science (CS) is presented. It is based on research conducted with a sample of 77 students aged 17, 52 of which were girls. These students were about to decide on their future undergraduate studies. The goal of this study was to determine the factors affecting the decisions of both girls and boys whether or not to pursue undergraduate computer courses. Questionnaires were used, addressing issues in the following 4 main categories: a) the reasons students chose/chose not to study CS, b) the way students’ family and friends, the media and the school environment contribute to their decision, c) the students’ perception of their prospective future after studying CS and d) the students’ perception of the gender that better fits the profile of a computer scientist. The results were quite illuminating: a) more boys than girls choose to study CS. Boys and girls choose/choose not to study CS because they find/don’t find it an interesting subject and because of the employment opportunities rate of the CS industry. Motivation in choosing to study CS differs between boys and girls: the former are motivated by their former experience in using computers whereas the latter are mainly motivated by the employment opportunities of the CS industry: b) the surrounding social environment in terms of family, school, friends and media seemed to affect student choice of undergraduate studies in CS through communication, infrastructure and living examples: c) boys imagine themselves as computer scientists in a competitive and profitable job in the industry whereas girls emphasized that they would prefer permanency in their future jobs and are not overly concerned about the payment: d) regarding the profile of a computer scientist, a small percentage of boys expressed the opinion that men more than women suit this kind of profession, whereas almost all the girls stated that they find both men and women suitable.