STUDENTS | March 27, 2021
This year, a record 16 CPS high schools were recognized with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP computer science courses. About 800 female students in CPS took the AP Computer Science Principles exam—more than half of all test takers and more than seven times the number of female students who took the exam in 2017. Below, four current and former computer science students representing these 16 schools share what this award means to them.
‘Computer science is going to play a big role in everybody’s future because technology is evolving.’
I feel proud that so many female students are taking computer science. Technology and math courses are typically male-dominated because there’s always been that stereotype that men are smarter than women.
When I decided to take a computer science course, I did it for myself because I personally love math and knew I would put all my motivation into it. I know that there’s a lot of girls at school with me who feel the same way because our school is very accepting.
My friend Yohali and I are always texting and FaceTiming each other if we’re confused; the support just comes naturally because we’re always willing to help each other out.
Computer science is going to play a big role in everybody’s future because technology is evolving. I plan to use my computer science skills to make a website for my jewelry business, which connects with my long-term goal of double majoring in computer science and finance.
As a current student in AP Computer Science Principles, I want more female students to get involved. I want juniors to look at the course list and say: “Computer science looks interesting; I’m going to take that next year.” One of the fastest ways information spreads is through word of mouth—you tell your friends and then they tell people and it just goes from there.
– Emili R., Alcott College Prep
‘I felt like a butterfly that eventually got my wings.’
If a female student were to tell me that they didn’t want to take a computer science class because they thought they would fail, I would remind them that women are extraordinary. They should go into that class with full confidence because it isn’t a competition between students; it’s about you versus you.
When I started taking AP Computer Science, I felt discouraged because I didn’t know what was going on. But I kept listening to my teacher—who was also a Black woman—and started learning more about different coding languages, how to design apps, and how computers and systems work. I learned that you have to be uncomfortable at first in order to learn.
One of the biggest skills you learn is trial and error. When you’re coding, you have to go through many trials of experimentation and testing. It can become overwhelming when you’re working on a project that has over 1,000 lines of code, but you just have to keep working at it.
In the end, my AP computer science class was so rewarding. When I saw that I had gotten a five on the AP exam, I was shook. All the hard work really paid off. It was a beautiful journey for me, and I felt like a butterfly that eventually got my wings.
I feel like I’m a part of history and contributing to making a difference. Even if providing more opportunities for Black women in computer science starts off in just one school district in one city, it’s eventually going to spread.
– Innocentia E., Brooks College Prep
‘Whenever I tell my family what I know how to do, they’re always amazed.’
When I heard that my school had received the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award, I was very happy. Of course, there are some people who believe that only men can code, but I always felt supported in the computer science classes that I’ve taken.
Sometimes, the females in my class participate even more than the males. And whenever we have questions, either the teacher helps us or other students do.
This month is Women’s History Month, and that always reminds me that this is a time to show what we can do rather than what we can’t do. It’s also a time for us to support and help each other out as much as we can.
One of my favorite parts of taking an AP computer science class has been sharing what I’ve learned with my family and friends. I was really fascinated learning how to program and create apps, and whenever I tell my family what I know how to do, they’re always amazed.
I’ve always been goal-oriented. I have a goal of becoming an accountant, and I know my background in computer science will help with that. It shouldn’t matter what your goals are as long as you get them done. Having goals sets your mind in the right place so you can accomplish them.
– Melanie V., Kelly College Prep
‘No matter how I am labeled in the future, I’m not going to let anyone stop me from pursuing what I want to pursue.’
Now that I’m currently taking my second AP computer science class, I’ve discovered that computer science is much more than learning about the internet and how to keep your computer from getting a virus. Two additional skills that I’ve learned are patience and working in a group.
When you’re working on a group project, you need to collaborate so that each person’s voice is heard. We’re currently making apps and have to find creative ways to make all of our ideas work well together. I’ve also learned a lot about attention to detail—sometimes, a single missing semicolon or bracket might be why your program isn’t working.
In my eyes, the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award reflects my teacher’s hard work to make sure that my female peers and I feel comfortable in his class. He is always encouraging us and even brought in a female speaker who works as an engineer.
This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doubted before. I’m also a cheerleader, and I’ve heard jokes about cheerleaders not being able to understand things at least a few times. But that just motivates me more to prove those people wrong because I know what I am capable of. Why can’t I be a cheerleader and an engineer?
No matter how I am labeled in the future, I’m not going to let anyone stop me from pursuing what I want to pursue. This is important not only for myself, but for future generations. If a younger girl is struggling to figure out what she wants to do with her life, I want her to look at me and say: “I want to be like her.”
– Rebecca R., Infinity High School