Women in Tech

Amazon awards over £1M to women to increase diversity in STEM

1st November 2023
Sheryl Miles

On National Engineering Day, Amazon announces the expansion of its Amazon Future Engineer Bursary Programme, providing financial support to 30 women from low-income households studying engineering and computer science degrees in the UK.

Since the Amazon Future Engineer Bursary launched in 2021 in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering, Amazon has awarded over £1 million worth of funding and currently supports 75 women studying STEM-related degrees at UK universities.

The Amazon Future Engineer Bursary was established to help address the underrepresentation of women studying computer science and engineering at UK universities, providing a financial support package of up to £20,000 to students from low-income households. This year’s awardees, who all demonstrated a passion for innovation and driving change through technology, have been awarded £5,000 per year for up to four years of study to support university-related expenses, including accommodation and living costs, or to contribute towards tuition fees. Awardees also receive a package of wraparound support to increase their professional and networking capital.

A recent study from The Sutton Trust revealed that there are persistent access gaps for students from the least well-off families, particularly at the most selective universities. In 2020, the number of undergraduates attending the Russell Group universities from the most disadvantaged areas of the UK was one in 13, compared with one in seven at other universities. This highlights that the most disadvantaged pupils remain significantly underrepresented at the most prestigious institutions, even when they obtain the necessary grades1.

Despite the efforts of many organisations to address the gender imbalance of students studying technology and engineering at university, the latest data from UCAS reveals that women accounted for only 19% of accepted applications for both engineering and computing degrees in 20222. Women are also underrepresented in the tech workplace, with recent data from TechNation showing that only 26% of the UK tech workforce were women; the figure is even less for Black and Hispanic women at just 3% and Asian women at just 5%4.

Lauren Kisser, Ambassador for Amazon Future Engineer and Director, Living Room AI, Science, and Tech at Amazon, said: “The tech industry struggles with a lack of diversity compounding the digital skills gap and ultimately constraining our ability to innovate and drive growth. Through Amazon Future Engineer, we want to break down the barriers to opportunity that so many young people face to help diversify our next generation of tech talent. I’m delighted that we support our bursary recipients on their journey to become our innovators of the future, and I hope they will inspire even more young women to apply next year.”

Lynda Mann, Head of Education Programmes the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “It is fitting that we’re extending our support to more bursary awardees on National Engineering Day, a day designed to inspire people from all backgrounds to consider a career in engineering. The concepts presented by this year's awardees in their Amazon Future Engineer bursary applications vividly demonstrate the inventiveness and artistic abilities found within the underrepresented engineering community of women. The collaboration between the Academy and Amazon shows our mutual commitment to enhancing diversity within the field. We remain dedicated to identifying individuals with remarkable talents to contribute to a more inclusive engineering community that mirrors the society it serves.”

Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression, Mims Davies MP, said: “Ensuring young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have the opportunities they deserve, and transforming their prospects, is a key priority for me. Amazon’s initiative will no doubt help many women gain key new skills, allowing them to progress in work and boost the STEM sector with the extra talent it needs. Our recently expanded DWP Youth Offer means tens of thousands more 16 to 24-year-olds will have access to a Youth Employability Coach, providing them with tailored careers advice and help with preparation for interviews. Young people are an essential part of our workforce so it’s crucial they are provided with chances like these to kickstart their professional lives.”

Basira Rishad, who has just started her Computer Science degree at Queen Mary University of London, is one of this year’s bursary recipients: “This bursary is life-changing for me. It will help cover my university costs and provide invaluable networking opportunities, connecting me with potential mentors and like-minded students who share my passions. Despite the challenges of growing up in adverse living conditions, I take immense pride in being the first woman in my family to pursue a degree.”

Fellow bursary recipient, Leah-Megan Chi, has recently started at the University of Leeds, studying Computer Science: “I want to document my experience studying to show other people that they can do it too. Though there are more girls in my Computer Science classes, most of the students are boys. If I can do it, many other girls can, and I want to inspire them.”

Amazon and the Royal Academy of Engineering are now welcoming bursary applications for the 2024/25 academic year. Applications will close on Tuesday 7 May 2024. Alongside the monetary award, awardees will gain exclusive access to networking groups to meet positive role models from Amazon and the Royal Academy of Engineering, interact with like-minded peers, build long-term relationships, and benefit from collaboration opportunities.

In 2019, Amazon launched Amazon Future Engineer, a computer science education programme which aims to bridge the digital skills gap by providing greater access and more opportunities to young people in underserved communities. The programme has reached over half a million students across the UK, providing primary and secondary students with access to free Python coding classes, career exploration through Class Chats and virtual school trips, CPD training for teachers, and more.

The Amazon Future Engineer programme illustrates Amazon's commitment to skills development, inclusivity, and creating career opportunities. This effort aligns with Amazon's recent recognition as the second-ranked company on LinkedIn's Top Companies list, highlighting its focus on skills training and growth prospects.

Product Spotlight

Upcoming Events

View all events
Latest global electronics news
© Copyright 2024 Electronic Specifier