New ITU project aims to boost young women's interest in programming

The IT University of Copenhagen is launching a three-year communication campaign with the goal of increasing the number of female students in its technical IT education programmes. The project is supported by a DKK 2.8 million grant from VILLUM FONDEN.

Computer Science DepartmentEducationdiversitychildren and youth

Digitalization has become mainstream, but IT education programmes like software development and data science are still considered by many as niche subjects primarily directed towards men. With an ambitious new communication effort, the IT University sets out to change this perception.

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It is incredibly important that both men and women contribute to digital development, so that the technologies of the future will reflect everyone's needs.

Mads Tofte, Vice Chancellor at ITU
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"It is incredibly important that both men and women contribute to digital development, so that the technologies of the future will reflect everyone's needs. At the same time, there currently is a huge demand for IT specialists, which we can only cover if we can recruit among the entire talent mass. Therefore, we have been working to increase young women’s interest in IT over the last couple of years, and we have been successful in significantly increasing the number of female applicants to our Software Development programme. We are very pleased that the grant from VILLUM FONDEN will now allow us to expand this effort," says Mads Tofte, Vice Chancellor at the IT University.

Over the next three years, the university will launch a series of new activities that will give young women an introduction to programming and the excellent career opportunities within IT.

The university will, among other things, offer coding cafés, organise tech career days and launch a campaign with female role models from the IT industry. In addition, ITU will continue to host IT camps during the Easter and autumn holidays. The target group of the initiatives is young women who are attending high school or on sabbatical after high school, and the first activities are starting up already this spring.

Programming experience gives an appetite for more

Following the first IT camp for high school girls, almost a third of participants applied for an education programme at ITU, and from 2016 to 2017, the share of women admitted to the university's Software Development programme increased from 12 to 22 percent.

According to Camilla Rosengaard, Head of Communications at ITU, both these numbers and conversations with the young women prove that the opportunity to try out programming gives an appetite for more.

"We need to make sure not to let ourselves be limited by cultural notions about what men and women are interested in. The education sector has a special task of communicating to both male and female applicants the opportunities that an IT education provides. Our experience shows that creating targeted efforts for women gives good results. When young women get hands-on experience with programming they find it both fun and creative, and many of them are motivated to keep working with it," she says.

Share of women among students admitted to IT-University's BSc in Software Development

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

7%

10%

10%

12%

22%

Further information

Vibeke Arildsen, Press Officer, phone 2555 0447, email viar@itu.dk