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Lanier High School honored for inclusivity in AP Computer Science

April 27, 2023

     Lanier High School has earned the College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in APFemale students in AP Computer Science at Lanier High School working collaboratively. Computer Science A (CSA). Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have achieved 50% or higher female exam taker representation in one or both AP computer science courses, or a percentage of female computer science exam takers that meets or exceeds that of the school’s female population.

     Sallie Holloway, Gwinnett County Public Schools’ (GCPS) director of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science says the award is an acknowledgement of Lanier High School’s commitment to inclusivity. “This achievement is a celebration of Lanier High School’s efforts to increase computer science access for all students, especially those who are traditionally underrepresented in tech spaces,” Holloway says. “Women account for about 18% of computer science bachelor’s degrees and make up 28% of the STEM workforce. College Board research shows that female students in AP Computer Science (CS) classes are five times likely to major in CS. These young women in CS are encouraged to pursue high-wage career opportunities, which also improves female representation in the CS and STEM workforce. We’re very proud of their success.”

        More than 1,100 institutions achieved either 50% or higher female representation in one of the two AP computer science courses or a percentage of the female computer science exam takers meeting or exceeding that of the school’s female population during the 2021-22 school year. In 2022, Lanier High School was one of 209 recognized in the category of AP CSA, and the only school in Gwinnett County to be recognized. Lanier has worked with its partner, State Farm IT, and the cluster schools to try and create a culture that supports more diversity in computing and other STEM fields and now, they are seeing the fruits of this labor. For example, a recent Lanier High graduate, Emily Espinoza, shared, “Taking computer science at Lanier made me realize that I had stronger technical skills than I thought and inspired me to try other things. Now I'm an intern at a major IT company, something I never thought I would be capable of.”

     Holloway says Lanier High is the model that other schools should follow. She explains, “Our Computer Science for All initiative in GCPS sets the vision for all students to have access to high-quality and inclusive CS learning experiences. That means that we seek to break stereotypes about who can be successful in computer science. Schools might consider how they recruit or recommend students for CS courses, how they connect with diverse professionals as role models or mentors in CS, and examine the learning experience so that all students can connect to themselves, their interests, and their goals. CS enrollment should be representative of the whole student body.”

     Beyond the College Board recognition, Lanier High School has always been well-represented at the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) local and national awards. They regularly see dozens of girls recognized at the Georgia awards ceremony. Additionally, they have had five girls recognized nationally, including a national honorable mention for Valentina Diaz Romero and national winner Makenna Reilly for 2023. “The computer science teachers at Lanier believe we need a workforce representing all students. We are proud of our efforts to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion in Computer Science,” says Lanier High School Principal Dr. Christopher Martin.

     AP CSA students learn to design and implement computer programs that solve problems relevant to today’s society. AP CSA, which first debuted in 1988, continues to grow, and female participation has increased 39% since 2017. Overall AP computer science course participation has increased 103% since 2017, broadening STEM career opportunities for more students.

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