Now in its second year, the Progress Software Mary Székely Scholarship for Women in STEM (up to a $10,000-per-year award for four years) aims to inspire the next generation of women in tech, following in our co-founder’s footsteps.
The number of women seeking college degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) has increased over the last few decades, along with the number of women in STEM jobs (now up to 28%), but the percentage of women who graduate with STEM degrees is still much smaller than their male counterparts.
Researchers say the groundwork for the gender gap in STEM is set in high school, despite the fact that high school girls achieve exceptional grades and high scores in math and science. And most myths about women in STEM were shattered long ago.
So what’s going on and how can we bridge the gender gap?
First, we can supercharge opportunities by encouraging more girls and young women who love math and science to pursue their preferred studies, providing more financial aid, and changing the conversation that teens, parents, educators, scientists and business leaders have around STEM.
Many of those efforts are already in motion, but some need a little more fuel.
There’s a reason Malala, the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, has inspired worldwide efforts to fight for educational rights for girls. Like there’s a reason another teenager named Greta Thunberg from Sweden has inspired so many environmental activists. Their personal stories, passion and tireless work have motivated entire generations to take action.
Inspiration goes a long way.
These days, it’s becoming easier to find that inspiration for women in STEM—be it from educating more people about Ada Lovelace or Marie Curie or Grace Hopper or even from award-winning movies like “Hidden Figures,” which featured an inspiring portrayal of Katherine Johnson and others who worked at NASA during the Space Race.
For us at Progress, we’re inspired by the story of Mary Székely, a co-founder of our company.
In the 1980s, Mary helped pioneer the first version of what became Progress OpenEdge, our flagship product, which continues today to help thousands of companies run their businesses. She led development efforts for OpenEdge for more than 30 years and she inspired and mentored many developers and engineers, both men and women, during that time. Unfortunately for all of us, in 2019 she died, at the age of 78.
In Mary’s honor, we’re offering the second annual Progress Software Mary Székely Scholarship for Women in STEM—a four-year, renewable scholarship for tuition, fees, and educational expenses 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 annually to a Massachusetts resident.
“Forward-thinking businesses understand that diversity introduces new perspectives, enabling us to better solve the complex problems of the future. At Progress, we understand that building better technology tomorrow starts with investing in young people who are advancing the future of STEM today,” said Yogesh Gupta, CEO, Progress. “Mary was such an inspiration for women in technology. We hope this scholarship will encourage more women to pursue their studies and eliminate the gender gap of women in STEM.”
In 2020, Progress awarded the inaugural scholarship to Kaya Dorogi, who is studying computer science at Columbia University.
“Mary was such an incredible woman—a true inspiration. I am so honored to have a scholarship in her name,” Kaya said.
Kaya is not only excited to follow in Mary’s footsteps, she’s also heartened by the work of her peers. She highlighted some young women who are currently blazing a trail in STEM to mark the International Day of the Girl in 2020.
If you look around, there are so many stories of the next wave of women in STEM. There’s inspiration to be found and a surge just waiting to happen. You can almost feel it.
Somewhere out there is the next Mary and the next Kaya.
Will it be you or someone you know?
For more information on the scholarship, eligibility, and the application process, click here.
Dave Pierce was the employer brand manager for Progress.
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