An industry which celebrates violence and the exaggerated female form might expect to be an all-male domain – but a university launched a frantic search today after a prestigious new computer games degree failed to attract a single woman.

The Microsoft-backed honours course has had applications from 106 male undergraduates, but now hopes to strike a gender balance by holding a series of summer camps.

Staff at the University of Derby said it believes the women-only taster days will persuade female students they have important roles to take up in the sector.

John Sear, lecturer on the BSc (hons) computer games programming course, said: “We are very pleased with the interest this new course has already generated, reflecting the demand for jobs in what is a multi-billion pound global industry.

“However, the fact we have had no applications from women reflects a perceived gender divide within the industry. It is something we would like to address to interest more women into this subject area.”

The university’s business school has opened a new £150,000 centre designed with help from leading academics at Microsoft, but industry researcher Lizzie Haines said the investment would be wasted without female students.

She said: “Girls don’t know that they can work in the games industry, they’re not told that games is a good career choice either and if they don’t play games themselves it may never occur to them to try it.

“If they do, they find mostly that it’s full of challenges and the opportunity to do cutting-edge programming, as well as good pay, great prospects, and the chance to be creative.”

Ms Haines said women make up only 17% of the industry’s workforce, with only 2% employed in technical and software development positions.

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