Prospect Hill Academy Charter School (PHA) has earned the first College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science A. Schools honored with the award have expanded girls’ access in AP Computer Science courses. Out of more than 18,000 secondary schools worldwide that offer AP courses, PHA is one of only 685 (4%) to accomplish this.
“PHA has successfully achieved diversity in its computer science program through positive reinforcement that computer science is for all students, including students of color and girls. The program at PHA provides students with a broad array of exciting and engaging project-based learning activities. Furthermore, we provide access to extra-curricular opportunities at tech companies in nearby Kendall Square, which serve as a tangible link to the real world and allow students to visualize themselves in the STEM fields,” said Ruth Farmery, PHA K-12 Computer Science Coordinator.
Schools receiving the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have 50% or higher female representation in one of the two AP computer science courses, Computer Science A and Computer Science Principles. Among all public, independent and parochial schools in Massachusetts that offer the AP Computer Science A course, only 5 schools earned the Female Diversity Award.
“By inviting many more young women to advanced computer science classrooms, Prospect Hill Academy has taken a significant step toward preparing all students for the widest range of 21st- century opportunities,” said Trevor Packer, College Board senior vice president of the AP Program. “We hope this inspires many other high schools to engage more female students in AP Computer Science and prepares them to drive innovation.”
Providing female students with access to computer science courses contributes to gender parity in the industry’s high-paying jobs and drives innovation, creativity, and competition. According to UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics data, less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women; in North America and Western Europe, it’s just 32%. Research shows women are more likely to pursue computer science if they’re given the opportunity to explore it in high school.
Prospect Hill Academy Computer Science students at PHA’s first annual High School PHAckathon at Facebook Boston on February 8, 2019.
Prospect Hill Academy (PHA) is one of the oldest and largest Massachusetts charter public schools. Located in Somerville and Cambridge, the school serves nearly 1,200 students in
grades K to 12 from diverse racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. 54% are black, 21% are Hispanic, 13% are white, 8% are Asian, and 4% are of mixed or other races. 64% are low-income, and 47% come from homes where English is not the primary language spoken.
PHA is a college preparatory school, with over 95% of PHA graduates matriculating to college each year (most being the first in their families to do so). PHA has consistently placed in the top 4% of all U.S. high schools per U.S. News & World Report.