Computer Science

29,000 Female Students Took AP CS Exam in 2017

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This year, more than 29,000 female students took an Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science (CS) exam, according to a report by Code.org.

That’s 11 times more than the number of female students, 2,600, who took the AP CS exam 10 years ago. While computer science has experienced steady growth year after year, the introduction of AP Computer Science Principles in 2016-2017 was the biggest launch of an AP course and exam in the College Board’s history. More than 2,700 schools offered the course, and more than 45,000 students took the AP CS Principles exam in May 2017, according to the College Board.

Not coincidentally, participation in computer science among females and students of colors has also increased significantly. According to Code.org and the College Board, female student participation in AP CS exams increased 135 percent since 2016. Also, underrepresented minorities increased their participation in the exam by almost 170 percent over last year.

Data gathered by Code.org show that more African American students took AP computer science exams this year in Broward County Public Schools, FL, than in the entire state of Florida last year. Broward County Public Schools also witnessed record participation by Latino students, whose numbers in AP Computer Science more than tripled compared to last year.

However, an imbalance still persists. According to statistics from Code.org and the College Board, female students still made up only 27 percent of all students taking AP CS exams in 2017, and minorities comprised only 20 percent.

In higher education, 83 percent of university computer science majors are men, according to a previous Code.org report. The imbalance continues into the workforce as well.

Code.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding access to computer science, with a particular emphasis on increasing opportunities for women and minorities. The organization offers courses that teach computer science to K–12 students, and sponsors the annual Hour of Code.

To read more about the recent findings, visit this site.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at rchang@1105media.com.

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