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 expanding young women’s access to 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 50% or higher female exam taker representation in one of or both AP computer science courses, or a percentage of female computer science exam takers that meets or exceeds that of the school’s female population.
1,119 schools are being recognized for their work toward equal gender representation during the 2019-20 school year, nearly 37% more than the 818 schools recognized last year.
- 831 schools received the award in AP Computer Science Principles.
- 232 schools received the award in AP Computer Science A.
- 56 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
There is still a long way to go to achieve equal gender representation in the field of computer science. 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.
- According to new College Board research, female students who take AP CSP in high school are more than 5 times as likely to major in computer science in college, compared to similar students who did not take CSP. The study also finds AP CSP students are nearly twice as likely to enroll in AP CSA, and that for most students, AP CSP serves as a stepping-stone to other advanced AP STEM coursework.
- The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $88,240 in May 2019. However, a code.org analysis of 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics data finds women represent just 24% of the 5 million people in computing occupations.
- 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 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.
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.