Stamford High Earns Computer Science Female Diversity Award

Stamford, CT — Stamford Public Schools announced this week Stamford High School has earned the College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles.

According to a news release, SHS is one of only 18 schools statewide to achieve this honor. Schools recognized with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP Computer Science courses. (To sign up for Stamford breaking news alerts and more, click here.)

According to the College Board, out of the 20,000 institutions that offer AP courses, the 1,119 schools recognized have achieved either 50% 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 during the 2019-2020 school year. SHS is one of 831 recognized in the category of AP Computer Science Principles, district officials said.

“During an unprecedented year, Stamford High School female students have demonstrated perseverance and dedication in their study of AP Computer Science,” SHS Principal Raymond Manka said in a release. “We could not be more proud of our female Black Knights for staking their claim as the next generation of STEM and computer science professionals. We can’t wait to see their passion for next generation technology lead to lifelong success.”

“Stamford High School students need the power to shape technology, not just cope with it,” Stefanie Sanford, College Board chief of global policy and external relations, said in a release. “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.”

The first year of AP Computer Science Principles in 2016-17 attracted more students than any other AP course debut, and participation continues to increase, district officials said.

In 2020, more than 116,000 students took the AP CSP Exam—more than double the number of exam takers in the course’s first year, and a 21% increase over the previous year. In 2020, 39,570 women took the AP CSP exam, nearly three times the number who tested in 2017, district officials said.

“I believe CSP has been a great stepping stone course for many of our students to explore the field, and prepare them for more computer science courses in college,” SHS computer science teacher Larry Katz said in a release. “We have had a growing number of girls achieve success in this course over the past five years. While the Guidance Department deserves much of the credit for encouraging them to take the class, I believe that those who have taken it are also speaking highly of it and encouraging others to follow suit.”

According to the College Board, providing young women 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, district officials said.

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, district officials said.

The data 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 similar female students who did not take CSP. 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, district officials said.

The College Board reports that the “1,119 schools which receive 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.”

Further information can be found on the district website.

Janelle B. Smith

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