Huawei Ireland has announced details of the second year of its ‘TECH4HER’ Scholarship Programme which offers a total of €90,000 in financial awards broken down across three universities to eligible female students studying STEM subjects.

With Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and University College Dublin (UCD) part of last year’s successful inaugural campaign, the second year sees University College Cork (UCC) join the initiative which offers scholarships at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Having handed out 11 scholarships for the 2020/21 academic year, the Huawei ‘TECH4HER’ programme will be offering a total of 21 scholarships this year, with 8 for TU Dublin, 3 for UCD and 10 for UCC.  Students will be able to avail of financial awards as well as masterclasses and some other opportunities of engaging with outstanding female ambassadors offered from Huawei Ireland. The three universities have identified promising awardees who will soon receive the bursary.

Aimed at inspiring ambitious female STEM students who want to make a real contribution to Irish society, the application process involves candidates providing a personal statement on their passion for STEM, future career hopes, and barriers faced as a woman in this field, as well as an interview with an esteemed university panel. Top-performing students will then be awarded the scholarship, which will be provided for the current academic year.

Speaking at the launch of the second year of the programme, Tony Yangxu, CEO Huawei Ireland, said: “Huawei is committed to empowering women by giving them more opportunities to harness the immense potential of digital technology to transform society. After a successful first year, we are expanding the reach of the TECH4HER scholarship programme after great interest and uptake last year.

Our mission is to support women who want to pursue a career in the exciting areas of ICT and STEM, with this initiative and our Seeds For The Future programme key in this respect. ICT is traditionally a male-dominated area.  We hope that our efforts will help close the gender gap in STEM in Ireland and help attract more young women into the ICT industry to drive sustainable and inclusive growth across the country.”

Commenting on the programme, President of TU Dublin, Professor David FitzPatrick, said: “Every year, TU Dublin delivers 20% of the national talent pipeline in the economically critical sector of ICT; however, it is an industry where women are traditionally underrepresented. The Huawei Tech4her Scholarship is an excellent example of the initiatives required to encourage more women to consider studying a Computer Science programme and to excel in their studies and careers.

Following the success of the Tech4Her programme, TU Dublin is delighted to have the opportunity to continue to work with Huawei on this EDI initiative and we look forward to introducing eight more TU Dublin students to the Tech4her programme in 2022, where they will be supported to become future leaders in Technology.”

Christina Vargka, one of the TECH4HER awardees from last year’s programme, expressed her feelings upon receiving the scholarship at Huawei Ireland Innovation Day:

“Being one of the awardees of the Tech4Her scholarship 2020-2021 has been an amazing experience because of the incredible support I’ve received. The faith that Huawei placed in me by choosing me as one of the awardees has been an incredible boost of morale.

As well as the financial support which allowed me to focus on my studies, the programme provided me with the opportunity to connect with highly skilled professionals through the masterclasses which gave me the opportunity to gain insight into how these women achieved success within their fields and the type of skills I would need to excel.”

Dr Anna Kelly, Director of UCD Access & Lifelong Learning, said:

“UCD is delighted to be part of the HUAWEI TECH4HER Scholarships, this initiative supports UCD’s ambition to be a University for All, where inclusion is everyone’s business, 1/3 of our student population come from diverse backgrounds and up to 25% of our first-year places are ring-fenced for access admission pathways. The HUAWEI TECH4HER Scholarships contribute directly to this ambition.”

CJ Clarke, the TECH4HER awardee also expressed her feeling about the programme:

“I am so happy to have been awarded the Huawei Tech4Her Scholarship. This scholarship is an exciting opportunity, as it has provided me with the financial support to cover the cost of my Master’s degree. The fact that this scholarship exists shows that we are heading in the right direction in terms of increasing female participation in STEM roles, as the women-only candidacy encourages women to apply for the scholarship, knowing that we will get a fair shot at winning it, not being affected by the sheer number of male STEM students.”

University College Cork president, John O’Halloran, whose university joins the scholarship programme this year, added: “We are very pleased to join this extremely worthwhile Huawei initiative. Programmes like this one are crucial to inspiring the next generation of STEM and technical graduates that our increasingly digitalised economy needs, and women must be fundamental to this as part of a diverse, creative, and inclusive workforce.

The STEM area offers endless career opportunities, and our focus as a nation must be on shifting any stereotypical beliefs that young women are maybe not as good at subjects like maths or physics as men are. We need to harness the remarkable academic talent shown by female students annually across the country to encourage more to enter the tech sector and inspire the next generation of female STEM graduates that will help transform Ireland for the better.”

Prof Sarah Culloty, Head of College of Science, Engineering and Food Science (SEFS) at University College Cork commented:

“We are delighted to be able to offer this opportunity to some of our very talented female STEM students, which will support them in achieving their full potential.  Time and time again I am amazed by their achievements and I am quite sure that our new partners will be too.”

The second year of the TECH4HER scholarship programme attempts to support change and to tackle the ongoing gender gap in STEM both in Ireland and abroad. Pfizer research in Ireland last year confirmed the gender gap between male (15%) and female (7%) participation in STEM professions, while Engineers Ireland has stated that female engineers represent just 12% of the engineering profession in this country.

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