The Gender Gap in Advanced Placement Program Participation

The College Board recently released data on participation in the Advanced Placement program at U.S. high schools during the 2016-17 academic year. Advanced Placement courses are designed to mirror college-level work.

That year there were 1,543,873 women who took AP examinations. They made up 56.3 percent of the students who took one or more AP exams. All told women took 2,724,405 AP examinations. This was 55 percent of all AP exams.

The data shows a wide disparity in the percentage of women who take particular AP examinations. Women make up a very large percentage of all AP test takers on subjects such as studio art, biology, French, Spanish, psychology, and art history. For example, women took 65.6 percent of all AP examinations in psychology and 68 percent of all AP examinations in art history.

But women are only a small minority of all test takers in disciplines such as physics and computer science.  for the 2016-17 academic year, 68,022 women took the most popular AP test in physics compared to 102,425 men.

In computer science there has been some progress. Five years ago, women took 19 percent of the AP exams in the standard AP computer science examination. In the 2016-17 academic year, the figure rose to 23.6 percent. Also, women were more than 30 percent of the test takers for the new computer science principles AP examination.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study

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