In the survey titled ‘India’s Future in Next-Generation Tech & STEM’ conducted in June 2021 by Avishkaar – robotics, coding & ed-tech provider, it’s found that only 57% of girls are willing to pursue a career in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) in India when compared to 85% of their male counterparts. This highlights the grave issue of gender disparity in STEM fields in a country where women were instrumental to the success of the Mars Mission. Times of India (2021)
Furthermore, only a fragment of women who study science goes on to pursue it professionally. According to the National Task Force for Women in Science Study, women make up only 15% of the Indian Research and Development workforce, while the global average is 30%. Smile Foundation Blog (2021).
STEM education goes beyond equipping one with employability skills. STEM learning cultivates values & skills that are applicable throughout life; thinking laterally, problem-solving and innovating. In an age that is shaped by technological advances, having the know-how to operate, use and create technology and science-based solutions will be critical to the advancement of girls’ and women’s health, education, voice and empowerment. Towards an equal future: Reimagining girls’ education through STEM, UNICEF (2020)
Some of the major factors hampering girls from pursuing STEM in India are societal perceptions, lack of support from their families, hefty fee requirement & the absence of female role models to look up to in our curriculum.
At Bhumi, we identified the pressing need for quality education among the children from underprivileged communities early on, and have been continuously supporting their education for the past 15 years. We strongly believe that every child should be able to access an education that caters to their interest & aspiration.
The tech champion Qualcomm’s values are akin to Bhumi’s. In their quest to fulfill the same by promoting & encouraging STEM education among underprivileged girls, they have partnered with Bhumi to support 103 top-performing girl children who have pursued STEM education by awarding them with the Qualcomm Aqriti Scholarship.
Bhumi partnered with various educational institutions, collected the relevant data & facilitated the screening process by creating Scholarship Eligibility Test (SET), an android application for students to take the test remotely. Over 450 students from seven educational institutions appeared for the test built on Mathematics, Science, Logical Reasoning & General Knowledge. The top-scoring 103 girl children in classes 11, 12 & pursuing Undergraduate courses were selected and were awarded scholarships worth Rs. 15.65 lakhs in total for the Academic Year 2020-2021 & 2021-2022.
The 13 college-going scholarship recipients who are in their final year of Undergraduation have been continuously supported jointly by Bhumi & Qualcomm since their first year in 2019.
10th Standard girls were part of the audience during the distribution as we believe that it’s pivotal to motivate them towards STEM. Witnessing the scholarship award firsthand will hopefully give them confidence and belief that help is available to them, should they wish to pursue a future in STEM.
The award recipients beamed with joy and their parents, with pride. The girls shared that the scholarship will help them pursue their dream careers without worrying about the exorbitant fee that comes with STEM education. Bright Doctors, Nurses, Mathematicians, Scientists, Genetic Engineers, and many more are in the making!