Too few women study STEM subjects. This Booking.com scholarship wants to help
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Too few women study STEM subjects. This Booking.com scholarship wants to help

Too few women study STEM subjects. This Booking.com scholarship wants to help

There just aren’t enough young women going into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Women have been discouraged from embarking on many male-dominated paths since the beginning of humankind. Childcare is for girls, hunting is for boys; pink is for girls, blue is for boys.

It’s outdated and frankly a little ridiculous that STEM lecture halls are still primarily filled with men.

Booking.com wants to even the score.

This week, the global travel e-commerce company introduced a new scholarship programme through the Women in Technology Scholarships at the University of Oxford and the Delft University of Technology (TU) located in the Netherlands.

The scholarships will support women who wish to seek careers in technology with €500,000 (US$588,000) granted across the two universities. This will cover both students’ university fees and their living expenses.

There will be 15 scholarships available for the start of the academic 2018-19 year. Ten of these scholarships will be available to women across the EU from Oxford. The Department of Statistics, Mathematical Institute, and Department of Computer Science will be offering them. 4

The remaining five will be for two-year MSc courses at TU. These will be available to female students at TU’s partner universities across sub-Saharan Africa.

“As a company powered by technology and digital innovation, Booking.com believes strongly in ensuring equal access and opportunity for all within the technology sector,” said Gillian Tans, Chief Executive Officer of Booking.com.

This programme is certainly a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go. WISE Campaign found that in 2014, 86 percent of Engineering & Technology degrees were obtained by men.

At postgraduate level, the number of women studying Engineering & Technology increased, but only slightly, to 23 percent from 14. And after university, a mere 13 percent of those who continue and work in STEM occupations are women. It doesn’t look to be a number which is increasing either: female Science and Engineering Technicians have declined by 10 percent since 2012.

“Women are still heavily under-represented in a range of areas of post-graduate study which are relevant to building a successful career in tech,” Tans said.

“By introducing the Women in Technology Scholarships, we hope we can drive change, increase diversity and demonstrate that there are exciting opportunities in tech for talented women from across the EU and beyond.”

The scholarships will be two-year incentives to advance women’s education in technology to prepare them for a profession in the sector.

Speaking to Study International News, Tara O’Sullivan, Chief Creative Officer at Skillsoft said “encouraging women to get into STEM ultimately starts with education – from school to the boardroom”.

“Through education and encouragement of both women and men, we can chip away at outdated biases and create a more equal workplace.”

It’s not just those at the top of the chain who are frustrated with the lack of gender balance in these subjects. Frances James, a third-year Engineering student, told Study International News that “Engineering is a field with a massive lack of diversity.”

“I feel like the industry hasn’t really moved forward,” James said. “As a woman, my opinion is so often completely discredited. The sector is so male-dominated that many men don’t even realise what is happening.”

Booking.com, however, have realised that something has to change.

The company, along with Oxford and TU, are providing a raft for women to float through the male-dominated sea of STEM. They hope that very soon the numbers will even out; that just as many women as men will soon feel supported and able to pursue STEM subjects at the degree level, postgrad and beyond.

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