Recognizing schools that expand access to AP computer science
Studying computer science can open doors for students, giving them the tools to excel and setting them up for high-paying careers, but girls have been left behind for far too long. That’s why College Board is honoring schools that are engaging more female students in their AP computer science classes and the important steps they’re taking toward achieving gender parity.
In order to earn the award, schools have to attain at least 50% representation for girls in either of the two AP computer science courses or have the percentage of girls taking the AP Exam meet or exceed that of the school’s female population. In 2018, 490 schools received the award for AP Computer Science Principles, 167 schools were recognized for AP Computer Science A, and 28 schools won for both. The winners represent a broad range of high schools from across the country including private, public, and charter schools, large and small student bodies, rural and urban populations, and specialized high schools along with generalized programs.
Why CS Matters for Girls
Expanding Possibilities for Female Students
AP Computer Science Principles student Makena talks about what taking the course meant to her.
Opening Doors for Girls and Women
Providing female students access to computer science courses is crucial to ensure they’ll be set up for high-paying technology jobs where they can drive innovation and creativity in the field. Research demonstrates that women are more likely to pursue computer science if they are given the opportunity to explore it in high school.
- Computer science research jobs are projected to grow 19% by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median pay is more than $100,000 and thousands of jobs are added every year.
- Despite growing demand, women still only earn 18% of computer science bachelor’s degrees and make up a mere 28% of the science and engineering workforce, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project.
- A recent Microsoft study found that girls often assume the sciences don’t align with their desire to be creative and make an impact in the world.
- Research by the Computing Technology Industry Association found that 69% of women who have not pursued careers in information technology say they didn’t know these opportunities were available to them.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to take computer science in high school and when I took [it] in college, I was one of the very few females in my classes. I am so happy to see my students have opportunities ... that I didn’t have and to see them learn in diverse classrooms.”
—Lori Piazza, AP computer science teacher, Watchung Hills Regional High School, Warren, NJ
“Prior to taking AP CSP, I thought computer science would be boring, was ‘for boys,’ was weird, full of just video games, and definitely would not be a part of my future if I had a choice. I ultimately chose to take AP CSP and AP CSA because it would allow me to not have to take any computer science in college.
A year later, I have transformed into a completely different person who is interested in pursuing computer science in college, and I was inspired to create a computer science club for middle school girls in my community. This AP class has honestly changed my life. Thank you.”
—Katherine C., Rising Senior, Kennesaw Mountain HS Student, Kennesaw, GA
Any number of factors can discourage girls from taking computer science—they may be unaware of computer science opportunities or think they don’t have the skills to study it. College Board has compiled a wide range of recruiting strategies to help schools dispel common myths and generate interest in coding, technology, and computer science.