Girls who play video games are three times more likely to choose physical science, technology, engineering or maths degrees compared to their non-gaming counterparts, according to new research.
The University of Surrey study, funded by the British Academy and published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, found that 13-14-year-old girls who played more than nine hours a week were three times more likely to pursue a Stem degree compared to girls who did not play.
It also found that all girls already in Stem degrees were gamers.
However, for boys, the number of gamers was the same, regardless of degree type.
Researchers suggested boys may face far less pressure to conform to the video gamer stereotype if they were studying a Stem degree.
The research was led by Dr Anesa Hosein, Lecturer in Higher Education and Programme Director of PhD in Higher Education at Surrey. The physics graduate with a self-confessed “Geek Girl” gamer past, believes identifying and targeting certain female groups early may be a way to encourage more to study it at degree level and beyond.
“There are still too few female Stem role models for young women,” Hosein says, “however, our research shows 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.”
She says teachers trying to encourage girls into Stem 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 Stem degrees.”
Hosein says ‘geek girls’ who have a pre-disposition towards gaming should be identified early by teachers or parents and encouraged to explore the Stem degree pathway through attending gaming expert talks and teachers could also include gaming in degrees to increase engagement of girl gamers.
It is also important for girls who do not fit the “geek video gaming stereotype” to meet and see more alternative Stem female role models during their school years, Hosein added.