More Than 1,000 Schools Earn 5th Annual AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award from College Board
More than 200 of the 2022 awardees earned the award in consecutive years.
During the 2021-22 school year, 1,105 institutions earned the College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award by achieving either 50% or higher female exam taker representation in AP Computer Science A and/or AP Computer Science Principles, or a percentage of female computer science exam takers that meets or exceeds that of the school’s female population.
Of the 1,105 schools that received the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award:
832 schools earned the award for AP Computer Science Principles
209 schools earned the award for AP Computer Science A
64 schools earned the award for both AP computer science courses
482 schools earned the award for the first time in 2022
53 schools earned the award two years in a row, in 2021 and 2022
150 schools earned the award three years in a row, in 2020, 2021, and 2022
Two of the schools that earned the award in three consecutive years are Chicago Public Schools’ Jones College Prep High School and New York City’s Fordham High School of the Arts. Both schools are part of their respective districts’ “CS for All” initiatives, which seek to bring computer science education to all K-12 students.
In Chicago, there is a new computer science high school graduation requirement that has assisted in bringing computer science to more students, including more female students. Jones College Prep High School offers AP CSP to approximately 300 students yearly and has several STEM-based clubs: Computer Science Honor Society (CSHS), Women in STEM (WiSTEM), Girls Who Code, Cybersecurity and Robotics.
“These clubs work together on several student-led projects during the year to offer CS-related workshops during our mini-hackathons and CS Ed Week for our students and students from other schools in the district,” said Cynthia Lilagan, computer science teacher and Computer Science and Engineering Department co-chair. “The various AP Computer Science Principles curricula (code.org, Microsoft MakeCode, and Berkley’s Beauty and Joy of Computing) and the AP CSP framework stress creativity, communication, and collaboration. These inquiry-based curricula spark enthusiasm in learning computer science for all our students and work very well with our school’s focus on the arts.”
These students from Jones College Prep HS shared their experiences with AP CS:
“Without the Jones Computer Science Program, I wouldn't be considering a career in STEM. CS Principles allowed me to explore my passions and my creativity in a whole new way. I was given the skills and opportunity to build an app related to Fishing, one of my favorite hobbies. Never once while taking Computer Science courses at Jones did I feel like I didn't belong or that I couldn't achieve my dreams. I've been able to participate in multiple computer science workshops (as well as planning quite a few workshops as well) and I've learned skills that I never thought I would be able to learn as a high school student. Computer Science at Jones has brought me to consider further study of cybersecurity and quantum computing at university, and I am excited to learn more about the computer science field.”
Abigail L. (class of 2023)
“Prior to taking AP CSA, I did not think I was fit to be a part of the computer science field. It was incredibly intimidating seeing mainly males portrayed as programmers in the media, and made me feel like I did not belong in a class to learn about computer science. I still took the chance with the support of an amazing friend and passionate computer science teacher. This AP class challenged me in new ways that showed me how capable I was as a problem solver, collaborator, leader, and programmer. It gave me the confidence and fundamentals to continue taking more computer science courses comfortably. Thus, I felt confident I could succeed in all the projects I pursued. Through this class, I was able to gain the courage to lead the Computer Science Honor Society as a Co-President, and encourage other students to start or pursue their computer science journey. I am thankful for having the opportunity to take this life-changing class.”
Yadira R. (University of Illinois at Chicago freshman)
“After a negative experience with computer science in middle school, I spent years thinking I was doomed to forever struggle with anything technology-related. However, the emphasis the Jones CS Department (and the many clubs they sponsor) put on inclusivity and creativity completely shifted this perspective during my junior year of high school. Because of my high school’s Girls Who Code chapter and introductory CS class, learning to program was no longer an intimidating, frustrating process. Instead, programming became an exciting creative medium that also challenged me intellectually. As a result, I went on to take AP CSA and join my high school’s Computer Science Honor Society, in turn inspiring me to now major in computer science.”
Joanna S. (Northwestern University freshman)
In New York, Fordham High School for the Arts encourages female student participation in AP CS courses by hosting recruitment events and offering additional courses introducing students to computer science. A “Share Fair” in collaboration with their Creative Arts Department allowed prospective students to see the work of and hear directly from current AP CSP students. And an “Introduction to Computer Science” course that is available for freshman serves as a low-pressure way of getting students familiar with computer science before AP.
“This course has been a great way to build community amongst my female-identifying students and encourage risk-taking prior to their enrollment in AP Computer Science Principles,” said Maha Hasen, computer science teacher and Master Teacher/Mathematics Department chair. “This spring, Kierstan Foster, the Dance Teacher, and I will be co-teaching an ‘Introduction to Computer Science: CS & Dance’ course (in collaboration with STEM From Dance), which will solely be for female-identifying students! The hope is that this will encourage even more female students to take AP Computer Science Principles next year.”
These Fordham HS of the Arts students shared their experiences with AP CS:
- “I chose to enroll in AP Computer Science because I needed something new to explore and I got just that: an unfamiliar world of computer software and systems. The thing that really resonated with me was also the cause of the numerous headaches I had, debugging. While I dreaded the idea of going through dozens of lines of code, these countless mistakes helped me in understanding the importance of being concise and patient. I’m hoping to study computer science in college. Becoming the spark for current and future students to develop an open mindset and desire for education in computer science would be the legacy I leave in my school.”
Britney C. (class of 2023)
“I chose to enroll in AP Computer Science class because as someone who loves to try new things, it was an opportunity to gain skills in other fields. What I didn't know was that these skills would be life-changing for me. Taking the class, I was able to partner with my classmates to create apps, learn to code, and experience the relief after spending long hours of trying to debug any errors found in the code. But these skills didn’t slip my mind once the class ended, the lessons carried on with me. I joined an after-school program, Project Invent, and my group created a prototype with the help of coding! I was able to implement my knowledge from the class to come closer to connecting an app to our prototype to strengthen its function. This allowed me to open my eyes and realize how impactful computer science truly is to the real world. I can use it to create something big to help the future develop into amazing things. That is why I am majoring in Computer Science for college. When I think of computer science, I don’t just focus on the long hours of debugging the code, I think of its impact and how I can use it to advance our future for the better.”
Ashley C. (class of 2023)
“Computer Science is a way of seeing the world through computing devices with various projects, observations, and activities. I wanted to enlighten myself on the everyday products I use and can't seem to live without (those being my phone, the internet, etc.). I also wanted to break this unspoken expectation that some people believe women wouldn't be so invested into complicated fields of study like Computing. The concept of coding is so cool. At first it seemed impossible to do but with dedication and having a hope that it will all work out in the end is so important and rewarding to see/experience. It's nice to have something in your life that you're passionate about.”
Athena M. (class of 2025)
Computer science is the source code of our economy and so much of our daily lives. In the five years since we began the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award, it’s been heartening to see schools like these welcome so many more young women into this vital field.
Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President, AP and Instruction, College Board
College Board research about AP CSP shows that female students who take AP CSP in high school are more than five times as likely to major in computer science in college, compared to female students of similar background and academic preparation who did not take the exam. 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. According to a Google study, 54% of female computer science majors took AP CSA in high school.
These findings highlight the importance of schools nationwide achieving gender parity in AP computer science classrooms. Overall, female students remain underrepresented in our high school computer science classes, accounting for just 33% of AP Computer Science Principles participants and 25% of AP Computer Science A participants. Currently, 51% of high schools teach foundational computer science. The 1,105 schools that receive this year’s AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award serve as inspirations and models for all U.S. high schools.