Barely Any Women, Minorities Or Wyoming Residents Took the AP Computer Science Test Last Year
By Jordyn Taylor | BetaBeat – Mon, Jan 13, 2014
Nobody in Wyoming took the AP computer science exam.
The demographics of the 2013 AP Computer Science exam’s test takers have been released, and the results are pretty depressing, tbh.
30,000 students took the AP Computer Science exam in 2013, which is great, because those kids might actually be able to find jobs one day, when everything is made of robots. But on the downside, less than 20 percent of test takers were female, and Hispanic and African-American students accounted for only eight and three percent of test takers, respectively. Ugh.
The rest of the article will tell you that few students in the U.S. take this test. Nonetheless, many issues underlay the above statistics. Schools are attempting to get more girls and minorities interested in math and computer science. The degree to which they fail reflects feminine preferences that are well-researched, as well as social and other factors. The minority picture remains less researched and murkier. While only eleven AP computer science exams were administered in Mississippi, Montana and Wyoming in total, the absence of any female, Hispanic and African-American test-takers in those states naturally sets off alarm bells.
Eduhonesty: Counselors and teachers know the money flows toward science and engineering. In many high schools, most of the math teachers are female. We push girls and minorities toward science, math and technology.
Why do our efforts often fail? Studies document that many girls prefer more social careers, careers that encourage conversation and social interaction. The key word is interaction. Problem-solving for the sake of problem-solving only appeals to a small subset of our students. Most students solve problems for grades and/or praise, working to keep teachers and parents happy. Some of these pleasers may decide to pursue math and science careers for the money.
Here’s the problem no one can solve: Social sciences may not pay well. The job prospects may be bleak. But social sciences are both much easier and more fun to study than math, science or engineering for the vast majority of students. On campus, students know that liberal arts majors have more free time than their engineering counterparts, sometimes ridiculously more free time. More than once, I’ve heard phrases from liberal arts majors like, “yeah, I did all the reading for the class the week before the final,” or even, “I never did the reading. You could pretty much figure out test answers without the reading.” This is true in high school as well as college. Creative writing is much easier than Calculus. Graphic Design is much more fun (for most) than AP Statistics.
What can we do to attract women and minorities to science, math and technology? One idea I favor is loan forgiveness. We need petrochemical engineers. Why not provide better loan rates, along with programs for loan forgiveness, for students who study in these areas?
Beyond that, I hope the government will mostly stay away from this issue. We can provide students with the information they need to make good choices. But in the end, when “Johnny” decides he has too much homework in his chemistry classes and switches his major to Gender Studies, there’s not much to be done. If there were, the paying parents of America have done it already.