BlackBerry to offer up Scholar Programs to UK women - backed by Alica Keys

Alicia Keys
By James Richardson on 5 Jun 2013 04:43 am EDT

It looks like Alica Keys is getting into her roll as BlackBerry Global Creative Director once again - this time being behind the new BlackBerry Scholars Program that is set to offer ten university scholarships to women in the UK. If you are an academic woman residing in the UK and have an interest in mobile computing then check out the following press release as this one looks to be a once in a lifetime chance.

Press Release

BlackBerry is reaching out to women in the UK to urge them to apply for the new BlackBerry Scholars Program, an initiative designed to inspire women globally to enter and develop careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Led by BlackBerry Global Creative Director, Alicia Keys the BlackBerry Scholars program will offer ten full, four year university scholarships to outstanding female candidates. The BlackBerry Scholars Program is available to women in the UK and will provide scholarships to outstanding applicants who are seeking degrees at accredited local colleges and universities in the areas of STEM across the UK.

“Women are underrepresented in fields of science and technology, and we feel strongly that it’s time to drive a change,” said BlackBerry Global Creative Director, Alicia Keys. “It’s important to connect the dots for young women in secondary school and college, and show them that careers in science and technology are within their reach. And when women do land these jobs, it’s vital they receive the mentoring and support they need to advance in their careers. I’m proud BlackBerry is demonstrating leadership in women’s education, both in school and in the workplace, and giving back to its most loyal users in such a profound way.”

Applications are now open to candidates in the UK who are interested in the scholarship, and will close at 9pm GMT on June 26 2013. The scholars will be selected by a panel of inspirational and accomplished women, led by Alicia Keys, who will recruit candidates based on their academic merit and passion for entering the mobile computing industry.

This scholarship program is the first step in BlackBerry’s long-term commitment and multi-tiered strategy to engage young women at every step of their education from secondary school to university, and as they rise through their careers. As more than 55% of BlackBerry customers are women, BlackBerry aims to champion this generation of female leaders as they strive to achieve their ambitions in this highly-competitive industry.

For those interested application is now open and will close at 9pm GMT on June 26, 2013. For more information about the program, eligibility requirements, and how to apply, please visit


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Reader comments

BlackBerry to offer up Scholar Programs to UK women - backed by Alica Keys


An excellent initiative - I really think BlackBerry should continue and push in this area. Good for the business, and good for the world.

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BlackBerry should keep up with initiatives such as this. It's great for everyone all around. There is nothing but upside here.

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You're welcome James ;) I feel like you could change 'roll' to 'role' too :p Also, I'm slightly upset that this is only available to women. There isn't exactly a shortage of them here :/

How unbelievably sexist! Are we back in the 1950s or something.

I can't believe that in this day and age we are treating women differently to men. It is seriously offensive. Women have been fighting for equality for decades and here we are in 2013 giving special treatment to 'poor little ladies' who would struggle to make it otherwise.

My gosh! I just can't believe this stuff is still going on in the 21st century.

Around the year 2000 I remember a guy refusing to accept the award for black writer of the year. His argument was that he wanted to win an award for his writing and not his skin color. I really respected that guy. That is what EQUALITY is all about. Being equal. Getting special treatment because your black, a woman, ethnic or ginger-haired is exactly the opposite to equality.

The sooner EVERYONE starts treating everyone else equally will be a wonderful day and it will be the day when the equality movement has truly women their worthy battle. This kind of inequality may have been fine in 1900s, but IMHO it is totally unacceptable in the 2010s.

Because in 2013, women are still earning 77 cents to a man's dollar. Because in 2013, women are still obscenely underrepresented in the technology sector, which means that the voices and perspectives privileged in this industry are overwhelmingly male. Proof positive: the hoopla when Marissa Mayer acceded CEO-hood at Yahoo!

On surface level, you might say that preferential treatment to anyone because of their sex is sexist, but that assumes that full equality has already been achieved. We all know that that isn't the case. By recognizing the uneven playing field and taking affirmative action to correct the imbalance, BlackBerry is not being sexist-- rather, it is doing its part in creating a more just and equal society.

Maybe you have more of a problem in the US than we do. In the UK most people of all ages and all sexes passionately believe in no sexism and no racism. Things like wage inequality and job inequality are very rapidly becoming a thing of the past and as anachronistic to modern day society as slave labor and the poor house. Any kind of inequality on grounds of sex or race is just place wrong ... period.

Nelson Mandela didn't solve racial inequality through discrimination, his aim was for equality WITHOUT discrimination.

Surely those two words are opposites. It is 'discrimination' that creates 'inequality'.

It sounds like America must still be back in the 1900s as here in Western Europe (not just the UK) most sensible people already see women as totally equal in every way, and the days of having to use legislation to achieve this end are very quickly disappearing.

By discriminating in any way (even positively as Blackberry are doing here) is perpetuating inequality. By favoring one sex over another you ARE discriminating and so are not creating an equal society.

South Africa would not be where it is today if Nelson Mandela had walked out of prison and fought inequality with discrimination. Positive discrimination may have been required back in the 1970s, but surely this generation should be demanding equality without discrimination of any kind.

The women's lib movement of the 1960 and 70s didn't want special treatment ... they wanted to be equal to men. Indeed, the very thought of special treatment would have been an anathema.

That Statistic is meaningless out of context and your view is disgustingly one sided and sexist in the extreme.

The women make $0.X on the $1 men make stat is based on total earnings for both genders across all sectors.

You know where women are also obscenely underrepresented? Workplace fatalities. They are less then 1 in 10 in workplace deaths. Why? Because they are also obscenely under represented in the most hazardous jobs. No to many women in mining, or forestry, or out on oil rigs, or in front line combat in the military. These jobs tend to pay a little better then your average teaching job, or HR job (women hold over 80% of all HR jobs and teaching jobs), Health care provider, secretary, early childcare or any other category where men are obscenely under represented. Why do they pay more? Well, because you might die on the job. Women tend to be risk averse. Some call them smart for that. But it also mean no amount of affirmative action will get more women down in the sewer or out in the forest logging.

So your $0.X on the $1 stat says nothing about discrimination against women. It says that women an men due to evolutionary and physiological differences tend to make different choices.

Actually, most studies that focus on single sectors comparing single men to singe women, it is the women who are out earning the men in virtually every sector studied. Probably because they are earning more degrees then men due mostly to sexist programs like the BlackBerry Scholars program.

Let's try to keep our arguments civil.

First of all, I would like to reiterate that the point of feminism is equality: not just for women to get on equal footing with men, but for both sexes to have the liberty to choose how they want to lead their lives. Second, I want to reaffirm my concurrence with you that men also experience a huge amount of oppression in our society.

In reply to your points: it's true, women are underrepresented in certain industries that are traditionally male-associated; in particular, hazardous ones like mining, forestry, etc. However, I would like to contest the belief this is a "choice". Is it not rooted in a larger patriarchal narrative of women as less capable than men, and therefore less likely to survive harsh conditions in the industries that you've mentioned? This is a narrative that both women and men who grow up in patriarchal societies internalize, and it therefore receives blanket social sanction. As you're probably aware, what that means is that men are now have to pick up the slack. Indeed, the other side of patriarchy is that there is immense pressure for men to conform to patriarchal standards-- to be the breadwinner, to exhibit strength and reserve, to have to court women and pay for dates, to "be a man", etc. This has a profound effect, then, on the role that men see themselves as fulfilling in gendered relationships, in the family and in the home.

When these rigid, sexed life scripts are in place, that robs everyone of true "choice" because there are profound repercussions (stigma, prejudice and discrimination) when one deviates.

Also, I believe that the dynamics sex and gender issues cannot be understood separately from issues of class: as more and more developed countries outsource hard labor to developing markets, women suddenly form just as large a sector of the workforce in manufacturing industries with unsafe working conditions. When it's a matter of survival, the gender factor disappears.

Therefore, an essentialist claim that invokes "evolutionary and physiological differences" doesn't hold water. Rather, I would argue that the ways we are subject to societal pressure points are what actually shape our life stages; and so, the idea is to critically recognize and actively resist these oppressions (which I believe BlackBerry is doing right with this program) and gun for a life that is more inclusive, and more free.

(I recommend ya'll read "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg)

I would argue that we do not live in a strictly patriarchal society and that there has never existed a strictly patriarchal societal structure in human history.

Everything you just wrote was written through a gender bias lens. Feminism is a bias hate movement that seeks entitlement and equal outcome for women at the expense of men.

You blamed patriarchy without taking MATRIARCHY into consideration at all. Patriarchy exists WITH Matriarchy. Both have always existed and while what you describe as traditional sexed gender roles the two spheres of power were kept mostly separate both have exerted equal influence on society and humanity as a whole.

You cannot claim to be a victim of Patriarchy where it suits you while also blaming Patriarchy for the areas where Matriarchy dominates and keeps men down.

Feminism is NOT a humanist movement anymore then NAZIISM was good for Jews. It is exactly the same kind of bias hate based movement. It may cloak it's self as a humanist movement and for the betterment of all, but it is not. You are a perfect example of it's flaws. You're on the nurture side of the debate, I'm on the nature side.

I do not believe there is a problem with there being natural differences between the genders. It is an indisputable fact. It exists for a reason and it came about as a means of survival of the species. The thing is, you seek to negate these biological differences through artificial means to the advantage of one gender over the other only in areas it suits you. That is selfish, dangerous and short sighted.

Opportunity is already skewed towards females in the Western World. We hear so much about aborting baby girls in China, but did you know in Europe, Australia and North America there is a large preference in invetro-fertalization towards FEMALES and that majority of aborted fetuses in the Western developed world are MALE? Why? Just ask would be parents. They will tell you, they want a child that has the largest amount of opportunity at birth and in the society that most of us live in, that's a girl.

It's not men or Patriarchy that are driving males out of college, or out of professions like nursing, healthcare, teaching, Human Resources, or Child Care. Women and Matriarchy are the gatekeepers and they are not giving in to make room for more diverse choice and gender roles for men. There are just as many young boys that want to be teachers as young girls, but there are WAY more hurdles for boys and they drop out. Feminists remain unusually silent on the matter. Oh wait, they don't care because it's boys not girls being held back.

So sorry, we will have to agree to disagree that feminism and programs like the BlackBerry Scholars program - scholarships for girls already outnumber scholarships for boys 5 to 1 in most countries - are anything other then just another female entitlement and sexist in the current culture we live in.

You've got women earning almost 70% of degrees, and have 5 to 1 scholarship opportunities to ensure that trend continues to grow, but you think that taking more opportunities away from boys is a good thing because women still don't earn as much as men on the whole. Did you know that men work on average 6 hours more per week then women in the same jobs? Women, even un-married childless ones, take more time off then men. So when the girls are willing to "man up" and put in the work, they can earn the corner office or the seat on the board. There is NOTHING stopping them. They simply don't desire that outcome because they have other MORE REWARDING CHOICES available to them then working the 60+ hours a week your average CEO puts in.

Maybe work is stressful. Maybe that's why women are having heart attacks at the same rate as men when in high stress corporate positions. Maybe, just maybe, women are CHOOSING other paths that are more fulfilling and lead to longer healthier lives.

But if you think that men are the ones who made it that way and thus it's our own darn fault, you're really out to lunch. WOMEN and MATRIARCHY keep men at work for overtime and in competition with one another. Women choose the mate. Women control the resources. Yeah men earn the money, but women are the ones who spend it. Men earn it, and then freely give it away. Us evil patriarchal jerks do everything we do in service to the Matriarchy. Men sit on throwns because of the women who put them there. Women in ancient societies didn't need to fill out a ballot in support of a candidate to determine the next King or Emperor, they had their husbands for that. Women can decide the outcome of an election with a facial expression. They didn't need the paper ballots historically. Women didn't desire to climb the ladder because they knew they already have the real power. Why be Bill Gates when you can be Melinda and tell Bill how to spend his billions? Matriarchal power isn't financial. It isn't traded on stock markets. But it is no less real. Women have also shown a heck of allot less willingness to give it up then men have as well. Women haven't given an inch, where as men seem quite willing to give up their Patriarchal power to women upon request. BlackBerry Scholars is an example.

Damn right it is.

Alicia Keys and her feminist ideology really make me want to leave BlackBerry. I am totally opposed to this kind of blatant sexism.

While scholarships are a great idea and a real incentive for students to excel in their academics, do we really need to gender segregate it? Surely having better technological "leaders" for tomorrow, period, is the goal? Regardless of gender?

I might even understand such a scheme in nations where women's rights are actively curtailed, but there's numerous studies and publicly available statistics that show women in the UK completing higher education at higher rates compared to men and going on to secure employment after University at higher rates than men.

Perhaps women are under-represented in STEM fields, but to me, isolating opportunities like this to one gender or another does nothing but harm.

"I might even understand such a scheme in nations where women's rights are actively curtailed..."

The problem is, such a society has never existed as far as anyone can tell.

Only when viewed through sexist feminist glasses can one find examples of sex discrimination exclusively against women by men. Nowhere can be found a Patriarchy without a corresponding Matriarchy.

Nowhere can be found a place where women are systematically mistreated where men aren't treated worse. Oh yeah the middle east is so bad to women. But yet men can be killed just for not growing a beard in those places as well. Don't confuse class discrimination as sex discrimination. Just because men and women are discriminated against in different ways, does not mean one sex is more discriminated against then the other. It also doesn't mean that one sex is more guilty then the other or less active in encouraging hate and discrimination then the other.

Yeah little girls are sold into the sex trade in Thai land, but so are little boys Jamaica and Trinidad the world's most popular female child sex tourist destinations. Maybe you'd say well more women are forced into the sex trade, and that's true. But there aren't many 10 year old girls being slaughtered in Africa in illegal diamond mines though. Or any other forced labor anywhere else in the world. Men and boys are the overwhelming majority of forced labor.

The point? There is discrimination and inhuman acts being inflicted on both genders BY BOTH GENDERS around the world every day and using sexist methods to make life better for one gender solve no problems. Sexism only begets more sexism.

I agree that there's discrimination and rights violations on both sides, definitely. Perhaps my wording of "actively curtailed" wasn't right, a better description would be to say countries where women's rights haven't moved forward perhaps? But again I agree, often those nations see atrocities committed against both men and women.

There are however, nations where women are expected to take up traditional roles in the household for example, and schemes like this I could understand existing in those nations.

This is exactly why I find scholarships like this strange in the developed world. Everyone has the right to choose where they work, what field they build a career in. If fewer women are in STEM positions, perhaps it's because, I don't know, women at large choose different topics to study? I know I've seen it written and said numerous times before that many young women find positions in medicine, child psychology and social work appealing for whatever reason.

All schemes like this in the developed world do is create animosity between genders based on preferential treatment, and as you say, sexism begets sexism.

Again, there is no society where women's rights are worse off then men's rights. So you need to look at the whole picture of the HUMAN conditions in those societies and what the class and cultural dynamics are in that society.

It is simply impossible to advance one gender without the other. For every woman denied access to education there is a man that is denied access to caring for his child. There is a man that would be imprisoned or forced into labor if he wanted to stay home. You see?

The feminist approach is flawed because it only focuses on 52% of the picture (if women are so mistreated why do they live an average of 8 years longer and make up the majority of the human population?). You simply cannot give choice and opportunity to one gender while maintaining the closed gender role of the other. Saying helping women means they will in turn help men which helps society is a fallacy promoted by the hate movement that is feminism.

Only a humanist approach and a society that achieves equal OPPORTUNITY (not equal outcome) for all is the answer.

Feminism claims to be about equal opportunity but of course the movement is actually only about equal outcome. Thus the $0.X on the mans $1 stat. That stat aims for equal outcome. They want women to out earn men in the areas they choose to work in so that the net outcome is equal earning between the genders while men still work longer hours, more dangerous, less desirable jobs.

It's all good if more women want to get into tech jobs. They are more then welcome. But men are still a little scared to be middle school teachers for fear they might go to jail on a false accusation from a female student who didn't like her grade.

And if society is so sexist against women, in Western societies like the USA and Canada, 8 out of every 10 HR Jobs (the people who do the hiring) are women.

But you're right, by and large women tend to flock to different fields of study then men. I don't see anything wrong with that. I just think everyone should be afforded and equal opportunity regardless of race, class, or gender. Class is by far the biggest hurdle when it comes to opportunity today.

I am embarrassed for BlackBerry every time I read that Alicia Keys is the Global Creative Director. When are they going to get serious about their marketing?

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Solving perceived gender through sexist feminist means is not a solution to anything. It only furthers the problem. Reverse sexism is sexism.

It is so refreshing to see such a lively debate regarding equality and to realize that I'm not the only one who thinks this kind of thing is ludicrously outdated, and nothing more than a publicity stunt on Blackberry's part. I'm a big Blackberry fan (Z10, Playbook, and a dozen others going back to 2000) and a shareholder, but it saddens me that they'd stoop so low as to provide cash to under-privileged women in the UK. As a Brit I'm seriously insulted. I think women have more equality here than pretty much anywhere else in the world. If you want to help people there are women in other parts of the world who REALLY do need help.

If you really want to help, anywhere in the world, you don't help women or men. You help PEOPLE. You help where there is need. Whether that need is better access to education, or more freedom to choose what to do for a living.

Helping exclusively women assuming that they will in turn help men and society as a whole is a false premise pushed only by feminists. It will not solve societal problems, it is a supremacist view of society from an exclusively female perspective. It's no more a solution to the worlds problems today then Naziism was a solution to the problems of the great depression in Germany in the 1930's.

It really saddens me also that BlackBerry is buying into these notions in the guise that they are correcting some sort of imbalance that needs correcting. But does it? Do we need to give women a free 4 year pass just to put them into a job that if the degree wasn't free they would not have chosen, or they might not have the most natural ability at, or they aren't likely to pursue as a career?

Women in the UK make up 70% of university grads. So it surely isn't that they don't have access to higher education.

What do we need men for anyway? White men is the new oppressed segment of western society, everyone else needs excessive amounts of entitlement.

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Who is Alica Keys? I know of Alicia Keys , so I'm assuming Alica is her twin sister...

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I would have offered it in a country where women are extremely oppressed and do not have the opportunity or even option for education. Western societies still experience discrimination and racism and sexism ofcourse but in reality there are many women out there who are looking for a way out and would do anything for a scholarship. Just a thought

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