There were more young women taking an Advanced Placement (AP) computer science (CS) exam in 2016 than in 2007 through 2013 combined, mainly because of the College Board's new AP CS Principles course. The course emphasizes curiosity, instead of previous coding knowledge, as a tool for exercising creativity and collaboration. The change helped counter some of the more intimidating aspects of CS for girls.
In the course's first year, 29,708 girls and 22,199 underrepresented minorities took the exam — a 100-percent increase for both demographics, EdSurge reports. "The introduction of AP CS Principles this past school year was the largest College Board AP exam launch in history, and has skyrocketed participation in CS, especially among female students and minorities," says Code.org.
Also of note, the University of California, Berkeley experienced a surge of female enrollees in an introductory CS course after it was rebranded as "The Beauty and Joy of Computing" as an antidote to stereotypes.
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