LONDON: 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 peers, a study has found.
Researchers from University of Surrey in the UK found that 13-14 year old girls classed as ‘heavy gamers’ — those playing over nine hours a week –were three times more likely to pursue a PSTEM degree.
The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, also found that all of girls who were already in PSTEM degrees were also 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.
Anesa Hosein, who led the study, believes that identifying and targeting certain female groups early may be a way to encourage more to study it at degree level and beyond.
“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, a Physics graduate with a self-confessed ‘Geek Girl’ gamer past.
“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,” she said.
“We need to get better at identifying cues early to recognise which girls may be more interested in taking up PSTEM degrees,” she added.
‘Geek Girls’ who have 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, researchers said.
School educators could also start including gaming in PSTEM degrees to increase engagement of girl gamers.