Established in 2019, the Mary Székely Scholarship for Women in STEM is a four-year renewable scholarship of $10,000 that aims to elevate women in the tech industry.
As the past and present have shown, it isn’t easy to change the status quo. Forging ahead on the road less traveled can be a scary thing—which is why we feel so inspired by those who do.
At Progress, one of these trailblazing role models is Mary Székely, who led development efforts here at a time when women in STEM were few and far between. Over the course of more than 30 years, Mary helped create and enhance Progress OpenEdge, a product that continues to help thousands of businesses today. In addition to her passion for math and science, Mary was a firm supporter of mentorship and education for anyone interested in STEM.
While it’s been decades since Mary co-founded Progress, significant gaps persist in the tech and computer science fields: Today, women make up just 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math. Only about 21% of engineering majors are women, and only around 19% of computer and information science majors are women.
To honor Mary—and to foster the next generation of women in math and science—Progress launched the Mary Székely Scholarship for Women in STEM in 2019. This is a four-year renewable scholarship for women, or those who identify as women, pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer science, computer information systems, software engineering and/or IT. The scholarship provides a maximum of $10,000 per year and is awarded to a Massachusetts resident.
“Leading businesses understand that diversity is essential to a company’s success. It introduces new perspectives and spurs innovation and creativity. At Progress, we recognize the business imperative of investing in young women who are passionate about tech and who can advance the field with their unique skillsets and experiences,” said Yogesh Gupta, CEO, Progress. “I am proud that Progress, with this scholarship series, will encourage more women to pursue STEM and help eliminate the gender gap in the field.”
Our 2020 recipient, Kaya Dorogi, is currently studying computer science at Columbia University. She continues to be inspired by Mary and women like her, bringing attention to the accomplishments of young women in STEM in honor of International Day of the Girl in 2020.
“Mary Székely was absolutely amazing and one of the founders of Progress, which is now a global company,” Kaya said. “It’s amazing that she was a part of that at a time when there were so few women in STEM.”
In 2021, Progress awarded the scholarship to Gavriela Tejedor, who is enrolled in the computer science program at Wesleyan University. An award-winning student, Gavriela was also the founder of her high school’s Technovation chapter for young women to compete in an international app-making competition.
“My main goal is to diversify the STEM field,” said Gavi. “I think the most important thing is to have a diverse STEM field, because diversity drives innovation. There are so many valuable perspectives we’re missing out on if we have only white men in STEM.”
To close the gap between men and women in STEM careers not just in the U.S., but around the world, Progress also recently announced the first recipient of the Akanksha Scholarship for Women in STEM in India.
This four-year, $2,000 per-year renewable scholarship was awarded to Akhila Karanam, a second-year student at Keshav Memorial Institute of Technology in Hyderabad, India. Akhila was selected based on her outstanding academic achievements and her personal qualities of courage, conscientiousness and resilience.
“I am deeply honored to be the first to receive this scholarship. It will help me pursue my studies, develop my computer science and engineering skills, and to work towards my dream of starting my own business,” said Karanam.
“Progress is clearly demonstrating that it cares about promoting women in the field of technology,” she continued. “I hope to see more companies like Progress taking the initiative to support young talent in the future. Computer science is a great field for professional development, and I will do my best to take full advantage of the opportunity Progress has presented me.”
With efforts like these, we can get a few steps closer to finishing what Mary started. There are so many bright young women ready to embark on the road less traveled—and we’re excited to hear from you.
For more information on the scholarship, eligibility, and the application process, click here.
Jessica Kent is a writer and editor based in Boston. As a content specialist, she has the opportunity to write about the exciting things happening at Progress, as well as the amazing people behind it all. When she’s not working, you can find her reading, going for a run or attempting to learn the guitar.
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