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UK GCSE results: IT gender gap leaves ‘serious concerns’

As the fallout from this year's set of GCSE results settles down, tech employers can look back at a mixed bag of results for the industry.

Despite approximately 97,000 pupils sitting ICT GCSEs this year, and 17,000 taking the new Computing GCSE course, the latter quadrupling last year's total; there remains serious concern over the gender balance in these subjects.

Read more: O2, BBC, IBM and Education Minister call for more women in tech

Only 15 per cent of Computing GCSEs went to female students, although those that did take the course outperformed their male counterparts, with 50.4 per cent achieving the top three grades, versus 43.8 per cent of boys.

IBM's UK foundation manager, Jenny Taylor, emphasised the importance of enticing more females into the IT industry.

"It is essential that the curriculum in school is inspiring, attractive to girls and covers the knowledge and skills students need in a lively, real world context. Employers working together with schools and exam boards to achieve this is the key to transforming uptake, and addressing the gender imbalance by encouraging a much higher proportion of girls into high quality careers in a rapidly growing market."

Businesses in general are already limited by the lack of people entering technology roles, despite the fact that employment is scheduled to grow four times faster in the technology sector than in the economy overall in the next decade.

In order for the industry to thrive as hoped, companies need a stronger pipeline of talent and cannot afford to miss out on half the talent pool by ignoring the sector's gender imbalance.

"Girls make up half of every cohort, but a disappointingly low number go on to further tech education. If IT qualifications don't attract young people, and particularly women, the task of recruitment is made doubly hard," said Ann Brown, senior vice president of HR at Capgemini.

Read more: Women in tech: Why should you care?

More generally, GCSE results this year were positive, with 68.8 per cent scoring A* to C, up 0.7 per cent compared to last year.