Girls who play video games are three times more likely to choose physical science, technology, engineering or maths (PSTEM) degrees compared to their non-gaming counterparts, according to the University of Surrey.
A study, led by Surrey education researcher Dr Anesa Hosein – who declares a “geek girl gamer” past, according to the University, found that 13-14 year old girls classed as ‘heavy gamers’ (>9 hours a week gaming) were three times more likely to pursue a PSTEM degree compared to girls who were non-gamers.
Hosein’s belief is that identifying and aiming at certain female groups early may be a way to encourage more to study PSTEM subjects at degree level and beyond.
The study also found that 100% of girls in the study, who were already in PSTEM degrees, were identified as gamers. “However, the same could not be said for boys where a similar amount of gamers existed regardless of degree type, leading to thoughts that boys experience far less pressure to conform to the video gamer stereotype if they were studying a PSTEM degree,” said the University.
“Our research shows that those who study PTSEM subjects at degree level are more likely to be gamers, so we need to encourage the girl gamers of today to become the engineering and physics students and pioneers of tomorrow,” said Hosein. “It therefore makes sense, in the short-term, that educators seeking to encourage more take up of PSTEM subjects should target girl gamers, as they already may have a natural interest in these subjects. We need to get better at identifying cues early to recognise which girls may be more interested in taking up PSTEM degrees.”
Her recommendation is that girls with a pre-disposition towards gaming should be identified early by teachers or parents and encouraged to explore PSTEM degree pathways, for example through attending gaming expert talks – and that school educators could start including gaming in PSTEM degrees to increase engagement of girl gamers.
Hosein added that it is also important for girls who do not fit a geek video gaming stereotype to meet and see more PSTEM female role models during their school education.