Computer science is still a brogrammer’s world. But efforts to bring more girls and minorities into the field may finally be paying off.
According to the College Board, which administers Advanced Placement tests to high schoolers, the number of girls taking the AP computer science test in 2014 increased by 35.5 percent over last year. For boys, the increase was 24.5 percent. While the participation for white students grew by 21.6 percent from 2013, the rates of increase were even larger in other racial categories, including for non-Mexican Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and those who described their race as “other.”
Students who do well enough on the exam earn college credit for the course.
The College Board itself may be partly responsible for the increase. In collaboration with Google, it brought roughly 500 new AP math and science courses to schools with populations that are underrepresented in the STEM fields. One College Board official called the AP results the “first real indication of progress” for girls and minorities in years.
The exam is still dominated by boys, specifically white and Asian ones. And while the percentage of male test-takers dropped to its lowest level in five years in 2014, overall they still accounted for 80 percent of all students taking the test.
Similarly, while the percentage of white students who took the test dropped to its lowest rate in the last five years, white students still make up 50.4 percent of all test-takers.
The numbers are preliminary; the results of some make-up tests have not yet been recorded, according to Trevor Packer, who runs the AP program at the College Board.
The charts below show the number of boys and girls who took the test from 2010 to 2014, as well as the increased participation rates by race.