Encouraging girls to study IT towards the end of high school could be too late, according to research by Digital Careers, which looked at the participation of girls in this year\u2019s Bebras Australia Computational Thinking Challenge. The independent organisation, which promotes careers in technology, conducted research on the 20,000 students who participated in this year\u2019s challenge, across 300 schools all around Australia. It found that participation of girls was consistently strong up until Years 7 and 8 where it started to drop off to 45 per cent of female participation, declining to 31 per cent in Years 9 and 10, and only 20 per cent in Years 11 and 12. The results showed that the drop off point starts at Year 8, making it crucial to encourage girls to keep engaged and interested in IT early in their high school years rather than later. \u201cAlthough there has been a pattern identified amongst female students \u2013 a drop off in ICT subjects in high school \u2013 this result has given us the insight needed to further develop and work towards re-engaging girls in digital technologies,\u201d said Digital Careers national director, Karsten Schulz. \u201cIt is important that this trend is addressed and that students have the requisite skills to participate in the workforce of the future. At Digital Careers we take a dual approach of engaging with students through fun, experiential digital technology programs, as well as empowering teachers and educators through training and workshops.\u201d Last year, Digital Careers partnered with Bebras to include Australia in its challenge to encourage Australian students to get involved in learning technology skills. \u201cI find Bebras a great challenge for our kids and find it helps to promote computational thinking with our teachers and students. With the new Australian Digital Technologies curriculum now endorsed from next year, it is a great resource,\u201d said Tony Hall, from William Carey Christian School in NSW.