Girl gamers more likely to pur­sue a ca­reer in sci­ences

Daily Dispatch - - News - SUTHENTIRA GOVEN­DER

To­day, Grade 8 pupil Layla Khu­malo is a girl with a joy­stick in her hand, play­ing her favourite game of Sims or Minecraft twice a week.

But to­mor­row she could be the next Marie Curie, mak­ing ground­break­ing dis­cov­er­ies thanks to her love for gam­ing.

New re­search in the UK has sug­gested that girls who play video games are more likely to choose phys­i­cal sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing or maths de­grees com­pared with their nongam­ing coun­ter­parts.

Pub­lished in the Com­put­ers in Hu­man Be­hav­iour jour­nal, the study found that 13- to 14-yearold girls, clas­si­fied as “heavy gamers” (play­ing more than nine hours a week), were three times more likely to pur­sue a PSTEM de­gree com­pared with girls who didn’t in­dulge in games like Fort­nite, Minecraft and League of Le­gends.

Khu­malo, 14, who is part of Afrika Teen Geeks, a com­puter sci­ence NGO, be­lieves there is a link be­tween her love for maths and sci­ence and gam­ing. “I think gam­ing helps me a lot with my prob­lem-solv­ing skills, which you need with maths and sci­ence. I find it eas­ier to de­ci­pher,” she said.

Khu­malo, who usu­ally scores an av­er­age of 90% in maths and 75% in sci­ence, has her sights set on a ca­reer as a soft­ware ar­chi­tect.

One-time self-con­fessed “geek girl” gamer and physics grad­u­ate Dr Anesa Ho­sein wanted to find the con­nec­tion be­tween her love for sci­ence and video games.

For the re­search she looked at the records of 3,500 girls to de­ter­mine whether their level of in­ter­est in video games when they were 13 or 14 had any re­la­tion­ship with the de­gree sub­ject they later stud­ied.

The study found that girls who played more than nine hours of video games a week were 3.3 times more likely to study PSTEM.

Video game-play­ing boys, mean­while, were only 1.5 times as likely to take up a PSTEM de­gree. Ho­sein be­lieves video games could be the short-term an­swer to sci­ence’s gen­der prob­lem. — Times Select

Gam­ing helps me a lot with my prob­lem solv­ing skills, which you need with maths and sci­ence. I find it eas­ier to de­ci­pher

LAYLA KHU­MALO

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