Phoenixville High School Wins Female Diversity in Computer Science Award

PHOENIXVILLE — The Phoenixville-area high school won the College Board’s AP Computing Women’s Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computing Principles. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access to AP computer science classes.

More than 1,000 institutions have achieved 50% or more female representation in one of AP’s two computer science courses or a percentage of female candidates on computer science exams that meets or exceeds that of the female population of AP school in the 2020-2021 school year. In 2021, Phoenixville Area High School was one of 760 recognized in the AP Computer Science Principles category.

“We are thrilled to congratulate our AP Computer Science students and their teachers for this step toward gender parity in computer science education,” said Phoenixville High School Principal Rose Scioli. “We are honored that our school has achieved this distinction and we look forward to seeing these young women and others pursue and succeed in teaching and careers in computer science.”

“By encouraging young women to take advanced computer science classes, the Phoenixville Area School District is closing the gap in computer science education and empowering young women to access the opportunities available in STEM career fields, says Stefanie Sanford, Board Head of Global Policy and External Relations. “Computer science underpins many career options in the 21st century, and young women deserve equal opportunities to pursue computer studies and drive technological innovation.”

The first year of AP Computer Science Principles in 2016-17 attracted more students than any other AP course start, and attendance is growing. In 2021, more than 116,000 students took the AP CSP exam, more than double the number of exam takers in the first year of the course. In 2021, 39,218 women took the AP CSP exam, nearly three times the number tested in 2017.

Providing female students with access to computer science courses is key to ensuring gender parity in high-paying industry jobs and to driving innovation, creativity and representation. The median annual salary for computer and information technology occupations was $91,250 in May 2020. However, a analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2017 reveals that women do not represent than 24% of the five million people in IT professions. Computer science jobs are the number one source of new salaries in the United States, although 67% of all new STEM jobs are in computer science, only 11% of bachelor’s degrees in STEM are in computer science.

That’s why the College Board’s research on AP CSP is so encouraging. According to the data, female students who take the AP CSP in high school are more than five times more likely to major in computer science in college, compared to female students of similar educational background and preparation who did not take the CSP. The study also finds that AP CSP students are almost 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 courses.

These findings underscore the importance for schools nationwide to achieve gender parity in AP computer science classrooms. Overall, female students remain underrepresented in our high school computer science courses, accounting for only 34% of AP Computer Science Principles participants and 25% of AP Computer Science A participants. Currently, 51 % of secondary schools in the country teach basic computing. The 1,020 schools receiving this year’s AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award serve as inspiration and role models for all American high schools.

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