Thayer receives AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award

Thayer receives AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award

Thayer Academy has earned the College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation during the 2021-22 school year. 

The award recognizes schools that are closing the gender gap and expanding young women’s access to computer science coursework.

Thayer is among an elite group of schools nationally to earn such recognition in the AP Computer Science A (AP CSA) category. Last spring, representation of women taking the AP exam in Thayer’s highly sought-after AP CSA course rose to 50%, helping the school to achieve this important distinction. 

“We’re honored that Thayer has earned this recognition and look forward to seeing these young women and others pursue and achieve success in computer science education and careers,” said Upper School Math & Computer Science Department Head Kevin Cedrone P ‘22, ‘27. Cedrone added that, given Thayer’s size, having 22 students take the exam was also a notable accomplishment. 

Cedrone further noted: “Thayer computer science students benefit from the tremendous work of our Programming I teachers: Mr. Chiari P ‘22, ‘22; Ms. Taylor; and Mr. Keough ‘12. Our AP CSA students are ready for computer science at the AP level due to the solid foundation established in Programming I. We also work hard as a department to make sure that female students have equal opportunity and equal voice. Thus, although this award is for Thayer’s AP CSA course, it is truly shared by all our computer science faculty.”

According to a Google study, 54% of female computer science majors took AP CSA in high school. 

“Computer science is the source code of our economy and so much of our daily lives,” said Trevor Packer, College Board head of the AP program. “In the five years since we began the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award, it’s been heartening to see schools like Thayer welcome so many more young women into this vital field.” 

The recognition came as welcome news to Maddie Stearns ‘23, who is not only one of Thayer’s top computer science students but also president of Women in STEM, an international organization of women in high school interested in science, technology, engineering, and math careers; it has chapters in 28 states and 12 countries. She said the underrepresentation of women in STEM is an oft discussed topic as is the mistaken preconception that women don’t belong in such fields. 

“It is an issue, so to have something at Thayer that actively counters those stereotypes is tremendous,” said Stearns. 

Stearns credited Thayer’s faculty members for the success. She recalled Mr. Keough, her Algebra II Honors teacher, “essentially insisting” that she take Programming 1 (C++), so she gave it a try. 

“I had a blast, and it came easily to me,” she said. “Mr. Chiari was a great teacher — the perfect mix of challenging and supportive. It was out of my comfort zone, but I enjoyed it immensely.” 

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