The Academy of Notre Dame has earned the first College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science A.
Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP computer science courses. Out of more than 18,000 secondary schools worldwide that offer AP courses, the Academy is one of only 685 to accomplish this, and one of 20 in Massachusetts.
“We are honored to be recognized by the College Board for this achievement and extremely proud of our students for their achievements in the study of computer science,” said Interim Principal Pamela Bernazani. “Students graduating from all-girls high schools are six times more likely to major in a STEM field and our graduates have proven this time and again. We encourage our students to pursue their interests in the STEM fields and in such courses as AP computer science.”
Schools receiving the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have either 50 percent or higher female representation in one of the two AP computer science courses or a percentage of the female computer science examinees meeting or exceeding that of the school’s female population.
“By inviting many more young women to advanced computer science classrooms, [the Academy] has taken a significant step toward preparing all students for the widest range of 21st century opportunities,” said Trevor Packer, College Board senior vice president of the AP Program. “We hope this inspires many other high schools to engage more female students in AP Computer Science and prepare them to drive innovation.”
The AP computer science principles course launch in 2016 was the largest in program history and has promoted the growth of AP computer science in high schools. AP computer science course participation increased 135 percent since 2016, broadening STEM career opportunities for more students. The number of female, rural and underrepresented minority students taking AP computer science exams has more than doubled in that period.
Providing female students with access to computer science courses contributes to gender parity in the industry’s high-paying jobs and drives innovation, creativity and competition. According to UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics data, less than 30 percent of the world’s researchers are women; in North America and Western Europe, it’s just 32 percent. Research shows women are more likely to pursue computer science if they’re given the opportunity to explore it in high school.