Massachusetts Recognized for Diversity in Computer Science

Saugus High School has more than 50 percent female representation in one of two Advanced Placement computer science courses taught at the school. Only 490 schools out of 18,000 worldwide have managed similar results.

by Bridget Turcotte, Daily Item / March 14, 2019

(TNS) — Saugus High School is celebrating girl power.

The school earned the first College Board Advanced Placement Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in Computer Science courses.

Schools receiving the 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.

"We are honored to be recognized by the College Board for this achievement and extremely proud of our female students for their achievements in the study of computer science," said Saugus High School Principal Michael Hashem. "At Saugus High we are committed to encouraging our female students to pursue their interests in the (Science Technology Engineering and Math) STEM fields and in such courses as AP Computer Science."

The school is 685 out of more than 18,000 secondary schools worldwide that offer AP courses to accomplish this. Only 490 schools earned the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for the AP Computer Science Principles course.

The AP Computer Science Principles course launched in 2016 was the largest in program history and the course has promoted the growth of AP computer science in high schools, according to a statement from the College Board.

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 time.

"By inviting many more young women to advanced computer science classrooms, Saugus High School 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."

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, said Packer.

Less than 30 percent of the world's researchers are women, according to UNESCO's Institute of Statistics data. 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.

©2019 Daily Item, Lynn, Mass. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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