Girls are flocking to computer science courses

Minority enrollment nearly tripled this year, as well, and the two groups could help fill the health IT and cybersecurity staffing gaps.
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girls in computer science

The number of female students participating in AP Computer Science exams increased by 135 percent -- or 15,066 girls -- since 2016, according to Code.org

About 29,000 girls took the AP Computer Science exam in 2017, which is remarkable when compared to just 10 years ago when only 2,600 female students took the exam. One in four people who took the test last year were women.

Minorities also saw a transformative increase with 22,199 taking the exam this year, which almost tripled the previous year’s 8,283 students.

Women and minorities with computer science backgrounds, in fact, are rife to fill in the IT and cybersecurity gaps facing healthcare and other industries. A recent Cybersecurity Ventures report predicts a shortage of 3.5 million workers by 2021 while the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics and other research entities have projected a shortage of health information technologists that could reach 50,000. 

While participation in AP Computer Science is growing across all areas, women and underrepresented minorities have seen the greatest gains in exam-takers. Further, officials said racial diversity in Code.org’s AP Computer Science classrooms are better than the nation’s average.

But there’s still work to be done, as female students account for just 27 percent of all students taking the AP Computer Science Exams and underrepresented minorities makeup just 20 percent.

In response, the group has prepared almost 60,000 K-8 grade teachers to introduce computer science into the classrooms, officials said. And this summer, about 900 new teachers will begin teaching AP Computer Science Principles to expand access to tens of thousands of students in rural and urban areas.

Launched in 2013, Code.org is the culmination a collaborative effort between thousands of computer science teachers and partnerships -- including donations from Microsoft, Google and Facebook. Today, 45 percent of Code.org’s students are female and 48 percent are underrepresented minorities.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com


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