Lufkin High School has earned the College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science Principles. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP computer science courses.
“I recruit,” said Thomas Hungerford, Computer Science teacher at Lufkin High School.
“There are tons of influential women in Computer Science,” said Hungerford. “Only since Bill Gates has the field become guy dominated. That is changing.”
Thanks to efforts from teachers like Hungerford, Lufkin High School senior Nicole Weiss doesn’t even think of it as a gender divided career.
“I like how diverse the opportunities you have from learning Computer Science. I took after-school computer classes in elementary, and I became interested in what else you can do with it. I like experimenting with it and learning all the benefits that come with it.”
Nicole is majoring in Computer Science and wants to become a computer software engineer.
Freshman Kiahley Vann wants to become an engineer, mechanical or electrical. She and Nicole are in the STEM Program at Lufkin High School. She enjoys Computer Science.
“You can do a lot with coding – codes are made for logic. I enjoy it,” she said.
More than 1,100 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 2021-22 school year. In 2022, Lufkin High School was one of 832 recognized in the category of AP Computer Science Principles (CSP).
“Being 1 of 832 schools to earn such a prestigious award as the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award is a testament to the commitment our district has made to maintain diversity to maximize student learning,” said Dr. Andre Emmons, Lufkin High School Principal. “Our mission is and shall remain to educate and equip all of our students for success through exceptional learning opportunities, and this is just another example of that commitment.”
“Computer science is the source code of our economy and so much of our daily lives,” said Trevor Packer, College Board Head of the AP Program. “In the five years since we began the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award, it’s been heartening to see schools like Lufkin High School welcome so many more young women into this vital field.”
Hungerford commented that when his wife was in high school, she was the only female in her Computer Science class. Now Computer Science classes can even be taken as a foreign language credit. Ninth grader Claire Carter wants to major in Interior Design and is taking Computer Science for her foreign language requirement.
“There is a lot of digital modeling for Interior Design,” she said. “I think it’s really cool to see how computers work – it is a foreign language.”
Providing female students with access to computer science courses is critical to ensuring gender parity in the industry’s high-paying jobs and to driving innovation, creativity, and representation. The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $97,430 in May 2021. However, women represent just 24% of the five million people in computing occupations.
Senior Jeslin Koruth wants to become an engineer one day. She took Hungerford’s class her eighth grade year and another class now as a senior.
“I hated coding with the dear life of me, but I really like problem solving,” she said. “I just wanted to learn the basics so I could say I tried it and now I really like it.”
That’s why College Board research about AP CSP is so encouraging. According to the data, female students who take AP CSP in high school are more than five times as likely to major in computer science in college, compared to female students of similar background and academic preparation who did not take CSP. The study also finds AP CSP students are nearly twice as likely to enroll in AP CSA, and that for most students, AP CSP serves as a stepping stone to other advanced AP STEM coursework.
These findings highlight the importance of schools nationwide achieving gender parity in AP computer science classrooms. Overall, female students remain underrepresented in our high school computer science classes, accounting for just 33% of AP Computer Science Principles participants and 25% of AP Computer Science A participants. Currently, 51% of the nation’s high schools teach foundational computer science. The 1,105 schools that receive this year’s AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award serve as inspirations and models for all U.S. high schools.
With the support of teachers like Hungerford, the Computer Science field is wide open for females.
“Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter was the first computer programmer,” said Hungerford. “It’s important to have females in Computer Science. If not, it would be a toxic workplace with one perspective on how things work.”