AP Computer Science exam rates among girls

Factoid Answer

In 1987, 34% of students who took the AP Computer Science exam were girls. What proportion of students who took the AP Computer Science exam in 2013 were girls?

  • 19%

Or to be precise, 18.6%. In 2013, a total of 29,555 students took the AP Computer Science exam: of those, 5,485 (18.6%) were female; 24,070 were male. Which state had the highest proportion of girls taking the exam? Was it New York or Massachusetts or California? No, it was Tennessee, with 29%. I am grateful to Barbara Ericson, director of Computing Outreach at Georgia Tech, for this observation: see her January 2014 article titled “Detailed AP CS 2013 results”,

For the past quarter-century, we Americans have been subjected to the dogma that the best way to eliminate gender stereotypes is to ignore gender differences. This dogma was never based in data, but in ideology. And the result of a quarter-century of indoctrination in this dogma is that significant ground has been LOST on this parameter: from 34% in 1987 to 19% in 2013. In fact, the best way to get most girls excited about computer science is different from the best way to get most boys excited about computer science. For more on this point, including scholarly references, please see chapter 5 of my book Girls on the Edge. Or, I hope you will consider attending my presentation “Physics and Computer Science for Girls” where I share the strategies I have learned which greatly boost girls’ engagement in physics and computer science.


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