Professor Dame Wendy Hall, head of computer science at the University of Southampton and one of the leading lights behind the Semantic Web, has warned that a poor cultural perception of computer science is preventing girls from getting actively involved in the subject.

Hall said that ""We have never broken out of the 'toys for the boys' perception of computer science" and that things "could not get a lot worse."

The statistics from AQA seem to bear this claim out; Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in 2004 women made up 19% of all students on undergraduate computer science degrees in the UK; by 2009, the most recent year available, that figure had fallen to 16%.

Separate statistics reveal that just 148 girls took the AQA exam board's computing A-level – seen as one of the most difficult computing A-levels – last summer, compared to 2,123 boys. Five years earlier, 3,628 boys and 297 girls took the exam.

Hall feels that instead of showing pupils how computers work, they were being taught about how to use a computer to produce spreadsheets, presentations and other documents. Hall said this had exacerbated the shortage of girls taking up computer science.

"Girls have been further put off by dumbing down computing to IT literacy ... They think that if they study computing they are going to become secretaries." read the original story in full at The Guardian