Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP Computer Science courses.
The 1,119 schools that received this year’s AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award should serve as inspirations and models for all American high schools, where overall, female students remain under-represented in computer science classes, comprising just 34% of AP Computer Science Principles participants.
In 2020, Immaculate Heart Academy was one of 232 recognized in the category of AP Computer Science A, a course taught by Mrs. Theresa Seymour Dolan’95 at IHA. Mrs. Dolan said we, as a school community, are honored by this recognition. “We are committed to empowering our students to see themselves as problem-solvers, innovators, and creators,” she said. “As a teacher, I could not be more proud of the commitment and enthusiasm our students have demonstrated in their study of AP Computer Science. I can’t wait to see their passions lead to lifelong success as computer science and STEM professionals.”
AP Computer Science A students learn to design and implement computer programs that solve problems relevant to today’s society. The number of female AP CSA exam-takers has grown steadily, up nearly 25% since 2017. Overall AP computer science course participation has increased 79% since 2017, broadening STEM career opportunities for more students. “Immaculate Heart’s students need the power to shape technology, not just cope with it,” said Stefanie Sanford, College Board chief of global policy and external relations. “Young women deserve an equal opportunity to become the next generation of entrepreneurs, engineers and tech leaders. Closing the gap in computer science education empowers young women to build the future they want.”
Providing female students with access to computer science courses is critical to ensuring gender parity in the industry’s high-paying jobs and to drive innovation, creativity, and representation. 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. There is a long way to go to achieve equal gender representation in the field of computer science. Currently, less than half of the nation’s high schools teach foundational computer science, a clear opportunity to be addressed by strong partnerships between policymakers, the tech industry, and educators.