How do we encourage more women to study the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics?
One initiative at Macquarie is the Women in STEM Scholarships Fund. It has been created to attract women to degrees majoring in STEM subjects by offering those with real aptitude the opportunity to be financially supported during their study.
“There are 10 bright, hard-working female students out there who just need the financial encouragement to join our ranks,” says Professor Barbara Messerle, Executive Dean, Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE).
“And we know our scholarships change lives. Not just on a material level, but on a much deeper level.”
According to Professor Messerle, the scholarships can provide the independence and confidence a young woman needs “to pursue her dreams in a field that is just opening up to women”.
For example, undergraduate student Sophie Kaelin (pictured) says she may not have studied STEM at Macquarie University if not for the Faculty’s scholarship support.
As one of very few girls enrolled in STEM subjects at high school, Sophie says she could easily have been discouraged from participating in STEM at university, even though she had a keen interest in it. But Sophie persisted, and based on her academic achievements in high school, she not only gained entry to Macquarie University’s combined Bachelor of Information Technology and Bachelor of Law degree, but also received the Macquarie University Faculty of Science and Engineering Academic Entry Scholarship.
Sophie says she was also offered a place at another highly regarded university, but having a funded place at Macquarie University swayed her decision. It’s one she says she doesn’t regret: “This scholarship has been such a significant part of my university life.”
Sophie says the $5000 in financial support for her first year of study has “helped incredibly”. It reduced her stress, and lessened the pressure she felt to work long hours, taking time away from her study.
Best of all, Sophie says the scholarship gave her a huge confidence boost. “Knowing that Macquarie believes in me and my ability enough to financially support me to come here; I feel very proud and privileged.”
So, what advice would Sophie give to other young women interested in STEM? “Go for it!” she says. “Don’t let any barriers stop you from participating in what you’re passionate about.”
If you would like to encourage more bright women to study STEM-based degrees at Macquarie University, please donate to the Scholarship Fund here.