The Chicago Academy High School recently received the College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) for its efforts toward gender equity in STEM. CAHS is one of the 24 public schools in Chicago to receive this award.
The Chicago Academy High School is an international school that provides 9–12 grade students with academic programs.
The College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award is for schools with more than 50% female representation in one of the two AP Computer Science courses. Trevor Packer, senior vice president of the AP Program, believes this award represents a significant advancement in preparing students for opportunities in the twenty-first century. The 2016 AP course debut was the program’s inaugural year. It fostered the expansion of AP computers in high school and paved the path for additional STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) employment prospects for students.
Criteria For the Chicago Academy High School AP Diversity Award
Chicago Academy High School met the two criteria. First, women must constitute at least 50% of the student body. Second, there must be no more than a 5% difference between male and female representation.
Out of the 877 students, the school has only one female student body member. Chicago Academy High School has made it possible for women to pursue careers in STEM fields without facing bias against them.
There has been an inadequate representation of girls in STEM education and careers. This has prompted discussions about the underlying causes. Among these causes are social and infrastructure issues, and a lack of mentors and role models. A lack of awareness of these sectors’ educational and career opportunities is also a contributing factor.
According to Microsoft research, women who studied computer technology in high school were likely to follow this vocation. Females have been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, math studies, and jobs throughout history. Girls pursuing careers in historically male-dominated sectors are frequently discouraged, but, things are changing!
Microsoft collaborated on a study with Dr. Shalini Kesar, an associate professor, that quantifies their findings from over 20 years. In their study, more than half of the middle and high school girls receive encouragement from their mothers and teachers, but less encouragement from their fathers. A father’s encouragement has a long-term positive effect on a girl’s interest in STEM and the likelihood of studying it in the future.
Girls who do not receive encouragement from their parents or teachers are 46% less likely to consider studying computer science in high school and three times less likely to say they will study computer science in college. Classrooms foster the right mindset among students, especially girls, because classrooms will always be the front line of girls’ STEM exposure. Students need a supportive environment to develop this mindset. To help all ladies acquire a growth mentality, teachers should make the classroom a safe place for questions and vulnerability.
STEM clubs and activities are an excellent method for girls to learn about the innovative and significant applications of STEM, and computer science expertise in the real world. Almost one-third of the girls polled are involved in extracurricular STEM clubs and activities, which are more hands-on and practical.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
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Inset Image courtesy of VCU Libraries’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License