The gender gap in STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, isn’t exactly surprising. According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women only make up 29% of the STEM workforce. But there is some hope amid all that gender disparity; more and more girls are taking science, engineering and technology classes in school. In particular, one subject is thriving: computer science.
According to Code.org, an organization that runs AP Computer Science Principle courses for underrepresented minorities, more girls are taking the AP Computer Science tests than ever before. In 2016, a little over 12,600 female students took the test. This year, that number more than doubled; over 29,000 girls took AP Computer Science tests.
The bump in testing partly has to do with the introduction of a new computer science course. College Board, the organization that administers the tests, introduced AP Computer Science Principles in the fall. The class joined the other advanced placement computer science course AP Computer Science A, which is a coding-focused class. Broken down, 14,681 girls took the AP Computer Science A test, and 15,028 girls took the AP Computer Science Principles exam.
While those numbers are incredible, equality in computer science still has a long way to go. Female students who took the AP tests only represented 27% of all test takers. Plus, the field itself remains largely unequal. According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, women were only 25% of the computer and mathematical science workforce in 2016.
Those statistics will hopefully be outdated soon. Not only are more girls taking these AP tests and courses, but enthusiasm for computer science is high across the board. Code.org found that 70% of their students wanted to study computer science after they graduated high school. With enthusiasm like that, the future of computer science looks bright.