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How to Encourage More High School Girls and Underrepresented Minorities to Pursue Computing Education and Careers - The New Hampshire Story


The question of why so few girls are interested in computer science has received a lot of media attention when Barbara Ericson, director of computing outreach at Georgia Tech, made public her 2013 analysis of the AP CS exam data for all states. Summarizing findings that read “18.55% of 2013 AP CS exam takers were women - which was a lower percentage than last year” or “no females took the exam” in three of the states is gold when it triggers unprecedented public attention and response.

To help with telling Barbara’s findings to New Hampshire’s schools, parents, employers, youth organizations, and everybody else who’s willing to increase learning opportunities for all, 2013-nh-ap-cs-data is Barbara’s original analysis with a NH magnifying glass on it. In a few words, the 2013 AP CS data for New Hampshire reads:

Where do we go from here? At a U.S. House of Representative subcommittee hearing about STEM education in January 2014, co-founder and CEO Hadi Partovi urged Congress (22:40 - 30:00 minute segment in the hearing video) to think about ways to make computer science count towards high school math and science graduation requirements because “CS fuels the American dream”, and “every kid in America can learn CS”, but only 90% of the nation’s high schools teach CS.

In 2013 in New Hampshire only 14 high schools offered the AP CS exam, reaching out to only 1% of high school students who participated in an AP exam. Given pressing economic development demands for an educated STEM workforce in the state of New Hampshire, access to rigorous and relevant computing education has to be broadened. Preparation for and participation in AP CS and the newer AP CS Principles exams are benchmarks with which we can measure our success.