BASIS International School Shenzhen (BISZ) has earned the College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science A. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP computer science courses.
More than 1,000 institutions achieved either 50% or higher female representation in one of the two AP Computer Science courses or a percentage of the female computer science exam takers meeting or exceeding that of the school’s female population during the 2020-21 school year. BASIS International School Shenzhen was recognized in the category of AP Computer Science A.
“In developing the leaders of tomorrow, we recognize the importance of diversity and how different people from different backgrounds bring new perspectives and different ideas. This approach is at the heart of innovation,” said Executive Head of School Nicholas Botting. “The receipt of the College Board Female Diversity Award in Computer Science A provides evidence that we are living our mission and that our computer science teacher, Mr. Neill Lee, has truly embraced inclusivity.”
Elizabeth Tweedale, co-author of the Kids Get Coding series of books, believes “men and women often have different learning styles…men often follow a linear approach of going from A to Z when solving problems, while women often start from the problem and work backward.” Mr. Lee believes that good programmers work backwards; however, this begs the question of why is the tech field so male-dominated? Is it possibly due to the way we traditionally teach in schools?
Mr. Lee remembers teaching himself to code by creating his own space invaders game on a BBC Micro because his school didn’t offer coding courses. He didn’t complete coding exercises beforehand; he just created what he wanted, looking up things along the way. “I naturally develop my courses on this premise, and perhaps this is why I have always had more girls in my classes than other computer science teachers. My only hope is that we can persuade girls to change the image of what a programmer looks like and become girls who code!”
“By encouraging young women to study advanced computer science coursework, BASIS International School Shenzhen is closing the gap in computer science education and empowering young women to access the opportunities available in STEM career fields,” says Stefanie Sanford, College Board Chief of Global Policy and External Relations. “Computer science is the foundation of many 21st-century career options, and young women deserve equal opportunities to pursue computer science education and drive technological innovation.”
Research shows that female students who take AP Computer Science are more likely to major in computer science in college compared to female students of similar background and academic preparation who didn’t take AP Computer Science courses.
These findings highlight the importance of schools achieving gender parity in AP Computer Science classrooms. The schools that receive this year’s AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award serve as inspirations and models for all U.S. high schools.
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