A recent study published in the scientific journal Computers in Human Behavior found that young teenage women who were classified as heavy gamers (nine or more hours of gaming a week), were three times more likely to pursue a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).
Likewise, a startling 100% of young women who were already in STEM degrees identified themselves as gamers. The study shows that encouraging gaming for adolescent girls is likewise encouraging them to consider education and careers in STEM.
The research was funded by the British Academy and led by Dr. Anesa Hosein. Dr. Hosein is Program Director of PhD in Higher Education at Surrey and self-identifies as a “geek gamer.”
“Despite the pioneering work of people like Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Surrey’s own Daphne Jackson, the first female Physics professor, there are still too few female STEM role models for young women,” said Dr. Hosein. “Our research shows that those who study STEM 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.”
Per the study, Dr. Hosein recommends that any young woman with a pre-disposition toward gaming should be empowered to make the connection between her hobby and the adjacent career fields. She suggests attending gaming panels and meeting STEM role models, and for educators to include gaming as part of STEM curriculum.
“It therefore makes sense, in the short-term, that educators seeking to encourage more take up of STEM subjects should target girl gamers, as they already may have a natural interest in these subjects,” said Dr. Hosein. “We need to get better at identifying cues early to recognize which girls may be more interested in taking up STEM degrees.”