Today Booking.com, one of the world’s largest digital travel e-commerce companies, announced new scholarship initiatives with four leading universities in the U.S. and India to help bridge the gender divide within the tech sector. Introduced to provide female students with necessary funding to advance their education in STEM, scholarships will be granted to over 30 undergraduate and postgraduate women studying subjects that include computer and information science, engineering, technology and mathematics. The grants will equal €500,000 across all university agreements.
In the US, Booking.com scholarships will be awarded to undergraduate students at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and postgraduate students at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. In India, Booking.com will support undergraduate students at the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology in Patiala and postgraduate students at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. All the scholarships will start in the 2019-20 academic year. Booking.com first introduced scholarships in 2017 for students at Oxford University in the UK and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
“Technology is one of the key drivers of social change and economic growth today, and the strong under-representation of women studying STEM subjects and participating in the tech workforce threatens to deepen the current social divide and further accentuate gender stereotypes,” says Gillian Tans, Chief Executive Officer of Booking.com. “This is why I believe it is so important to encourage and empower more young women to pursue and advance their tech education and start a tech career. The more women we have engaging with STEM, the greater chance we will have to turn these stereotypes in tech around and make the industry a more welcoming place for people of all backgrounds to thrive.”
Recent research from Booking.com shows that despite Technology being an appealing industry for women overall, many have reservations about entering the tech sector. Women still perceive their gender to be detrimental to pursuing a career in tech, with more than half (52%) attributing this to the tech industry’s largely male-dominated workforce.
According to a 2018 report by global consultancy McKinsey, in the U.S., women make up just 23% of high school Advanced Placement computer science exam takers, 19% of computer and information science Bachelor’s degree recipients, and 26% of the computing workforce. This is indicative of the under-representation of women in many other regions of the world, which, coupled with a growing shortage of digitally skilled workers, could contribute to challenges in how companies progress within the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The European Commission believes there could be as many as 756,000 unfilled jobs in the European Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector by 2020.
Gillian Tans, Booking.com CEO said “Our research has shown us that despite changes being made to encourage more women into tech, they still face more challenges in the industry compared with men. It is important that we support and encourage women at the early stages of their careers to ensure they receive the skills development, training, mentorship and access to role models that they have the right foundations to enter the tech sector. The institutions we have chosen to partner with for the Booking.com scholarships all demonstrate an ongoing commitment to promoting diversity in STEM and we believe that these partnerships will provide many talented young women with the boost they need to succeed in the industry, helping us to support and develop the next generation of female tech talent.”
Dr. Prakash Gopalan, Director of Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology (TIET), Patiala, said, “We are delighted that Booking.com has initiated this unique scholarship for our female undergraduate students. Supporting more young women to study STEM subjects is a key priority at TIET, which has a rich history of encouraging women in engineering. These scholarships will play an important role in furthering this ambition and we look forward to building a lasting, successful partnership with Booking.com.”
Professor. Anurag Kumar, Director, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) welcomed the scholarships by saying: “We are extremely grateful to Booking.com for providing scholarships for female students to pursue master degrees in engineering fields at the Indian Institute of Science. We are keen on increasing the number of female students in the Institute, and we welcome Booking.com’s support in helping us realize this goal. We look forward to a fruitful, long-term partnership with Booking.com.”
President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D of Spelman College said: “At a time when technology is critical to global markets and pervasive in our daily lives, we are excited about the opportunities our STEM students will receive via the Booking.com Women in Tech Scholarships. Financial support and career development activities such as mentoring by Booking.com employees will help ensure will ensure that these students graduate with a competitive edge. Prepared for life and a career as masters of technology, these students will enter the workforce and increase the number of African-American women that are currently drastically underrepresented in the STEM fields.”
Kavita Bala, Professor and Chair of Computer Science at Cornell University, said, “We are delighted that Booking.com has selected Cornell CS as a recipient of scholarships for three of our female postgraduate students. Encouraging and supporting more young women to study STEM subjects such as Computer Science is a key priority for Cornell CS, and the Women in Tech Scholarships will play a crucial role in helping us achieve this ambition. We look forward to building a lasting, successful partnership with Booking.com.”