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 for engaging more female students in their AP computer science classes and for the important steps they’re taking to reach gender parity.
Schools receiving the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have achieved either a 50% or higher female representation in one or both AP computer science courses or a percentage of female computer science examinees that meets or exceeds that of the school’s female population.
Out of the 20,000 institutions that offer AP courses, 818 achieved this important result during the 2018-19 school year. This is a nearly 20% increase over the 685 schools recognized last year.
- 639 schools received the award in AP Computer Science Principles.
- 143 schools received the award in AP Computer Science A.
- 36 schools received the award in both AP computer science courses.
The winners represent a broad range of high schools from across the country. They include private, public, and charter schools, large and small student bodies, rural and urban populations, and specialized high schools, along with generalized programs.
Why Computer Science Matters for Girls
Hear what these students learned about computer science—and themselves—when they took AP Computer Science Principles.
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 16% by 2028, 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., student, Kennesaw Mountain High School, 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.