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Ursuline Academy Earns College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award
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Recognized for Closing the Gender Gap in AP Computer Science Principles 

Ursuline Academy has earned the College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in its AP Computer Science Principles course during the 2019-20 school year, the first year in which the course was offered at Ursuline. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP Computer Science courses.

Out of the 20,000 institutions that offer AP courses, 1,119 received this distinction by virtue of achieving 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. In 2020, Ursuline was one of 831 schools recognized in the category of AP Computer Science Principles.

 “During an unprecedented year, Ursuline students have demonstrated perseverance and dedication in their study of AP Computer Science,” said Mary-Kate Tracy, Principal. “We could not be more proud of our students for staking their claim as the next generation of STEM and computer science professionals. I am confident that these young women, in true Ursuline fashion, will use their passion for technology to create positive change in the world.”

At Ursuline Academy, the appetite for computer science courses was so strong during the first year that  AP Computer Science Principles was offered that the school decided to offer AP Computer Science A the next year.  Ursuline now offers the full complement of AP Computer Science courses to its young women. 

“Ursuline Academy’s students need the power to shape technology, not just cope with it,” says 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 that women represent just 24% of the 5 million people in computing occupations.

According to the data from the College Board, female students who take AP Computer Science Principles 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 Computer Science A, and that for most students, AP Computer Science Principles serves as a stepping-stone to other advanced AP STEM coursework.

These findings make it all the more imperative that schools nationwide achieve gender parity in AP Computer Science classrooms. The 1,119 schools that 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. 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.