Mayo High School receives diversity award

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(ABC 6 News) – Mayo High School has done what no other school was able to do in the state, reaching more than 50 percent of female participation in AP Computer Science A.

They are being honored with the Female Diversity Award. Something computer science teacher Eric Dirks is very proud of.

“We were really thrilled about getting this award. We have been working diligently the whole time that I’ve been teaching this class which is seven years now to try to equal out the gender disparity between males and females,” said Mr. Dirks.

Last year’s class had 28 students and 14 females. Cate Stacy was one of the girls in the award-winning class and says she’s thrilled that she got to be a part of history.

“I guess maybe at the time it didn’t quite recognize it was a unique thing for us to have equal representation. So yeah, it’s exciting,” Cate.

More than 1,100 institutions across the country achieved either 50 percent or higher female participation in one of the two AP computer science courses. Mayo High School is one of 209 schools to do this in their AP Computer Science A class.

Seeing more equal numbers between girls and boys in the class helped elevate the students learning according to Mr. Dirks. “Girls are oftentimes so relational and so you could see that in the room. People were better about helping each other better about working together better about encouraging. So, it really changed the dynamics and will continue to change the dynamics as we get more girls in our computer science classes,” said Mr. Dirks.

Nationally over 5 million people are in the computer science occupation, but just 24 percent are women. Because of this class, Cate hopes to pursue computer science in college and change that statistic.

“I think when a lot of people think of computer science, they think ones and zeroes but it is actually a lot different than that. There’s a lot of problem-solving room for creative thinking so I was really drawn to that aspect of it,” said Cate.

Rochester Superintendent Dr. Kent Pekel says this sets the standard for inclusion and equality in the classroom.

“We’re super proud of what Mayo has done in this area, and it’s one of those things that should give us hope to broaden the participation of many kinds of students that are underrepresented in the fields that are going to be the doorstop opportunity in our society,” said Pekel.