BlackBerry Scholars Program to provide scholarships to women in tech

Alicia Keys
By Simon Sage on 14 May 2013 10:56 am EDT

Alicia Keys announced the BlackBerry Scholars Program at BlackBerry Live 2013, which promises to offer new opportunities to women looking to get into the technology field. The scholarship offers to cover full tuition for four-year programs in science, engineering, technology, or math, and available to students entering their first year of study in 2013 - 2014.

Applicants have to write an essay about how they intend to leave their mark on the world, and include biographical, financial, and educational histories. The deadline to apply is June 26, so better get cracking, ladies. Anybody interested in learning more can find information at this landing page

This is a great initiative, considering how underrepresented women are in the professional tech sphere despite their impressive adoption rates.

Reader comments

BlackBerry Scholars Program to provide scholarships to women in tech


If they're only offering these to women, isn't that just sexist? I don't care who you are, if you are being chosen for a scholarship it should be based on your skills, not your gender. If they made this men only there would be an outrage. Excluding one gender in favour of another is unfair either way.

I agree. I also do not support any form of sexual discrimination whether in favor of men or women.

This disgusts me personally and really doesn't benefit anyone really. I agree that a scholarship of this nature should be based entirely on skills not a candidates genitals.

What's your problem? Males are over represented in the tech work space and they want to encourage more women by providing support. You should go study the effects of the phenomenon they call " male privilege." Then maybe you will better appreciate those fighting to create some equality. And if you read the article, the scholarship is not just based on their sex but obviously the skill and know thow hey will be showing in their essays.

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I've explained the problem: this is a sexist programme.

We already have equal opportunity. In other words, if a woman wants to study, say, computer science at uni, she can. And if she then wants to go and work in tech, she is now qualified to do so and she can. There are no barriers stopping women from working in the tech industry. The reason we don't have more women working in that field now isn't because there's anything stopping them, it's simply because they don't want to.

Schemes like this actively destroy equality of opportunity. Suddenly we are giving more opportunities to one gender over another again, but because it benefits women rather than men men, for some reason that's acceptable. I honestly don't understand how it isn't illegal under discrimination laws.

That being as it is, I don't understand these calls for "more women in X industry." It's stupid. Women have equal opportunity in the workplace, it's 2013. If women don't choose to go into these industries why force them? Why does every industry have to meet diversity quotas? If it's mostly men who choose to work in tech, then as long as nothing is actually stopping women from doing so, why does that matter? Why is it suddenly a feminist issue, or an issue of inequality? If anything, more inequality is being created from this crap.

P.S. "Male privilege"? Since when did CrackBerry become a teenager's Tumblr blog?

They are trying to encourage women to join the Technology field. I think is a very good move from BlackBerry. Women can be very creative. I am in full support with this initiative. Thanks Alicia Keys. Ladies where ever you are, here is an opportunity knocking on your door. Lets get cracking Ladies. Thanks Simon.

you have to have a slight chuckle at the C level execs Thorsten hired as all being men though. ironic jus a tad lol

Would you be equally supportive of scholarships elusively for men in female dominated professions? Sexism is BAD. It doesn't matter if it is towards men or women. It is the WRONG approach.

It is sexist.

It's just that in Western Society we are sexist in the extreme towards women to the point where we have to have gender parity in any fields that women are less interested in naturally while continuing to keep men from working in female dominated fields like healthcare, childcare, teaching, languages etc.

I get BlackBerry is a tech company and Alicia Keys is a celebrity and it's cool to encourage women in math and science. But sexism really does not benefit anyone and this is a really poor move on BlackBerry's part.

Scholarships are a privilege, not a right, and so I don't see how this takes away from the rights of men.

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If I had a scholarship at my company and said it was for men only I'd get called sexist, and rightly so. The same is equally true when the genders are reversed.

No one is saying it takes away from anyone's rights (seriously where did you get that from?), but BlackBerry is still being sexist.

I think you have the false impression that this is an equal playing field for both sexes. The fact is, women are under-represented in these particular areas, and so this is an attempt to level things out. This isn't about a job where equal work deserves equal pay.

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So? That doesn't make inherent sexism of this scheme any less sexist.

Also, I'd like to point out that we already have - in both law and culture - a strong emphasis on anti-discrimination. Which means women have just as much chance of getting into the tech field as men if they choose that path. It's just that a lot of them don't. And of course the whole "gender discrimination is bad" thing can easily be thrown out of the window when it's convenient, it seems. But only in favour of women.

The only reason they're doing this is to pander to female customers, not to change the tech industry. Make no mistake, they are literally using sexism as a marketing tool here.

This is awesome! It's to encourage women! Many are discouraged from going into these fields, and it's frustrating for me to see how society treats the situation. Thank you Alicia Keys!

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This is a fantastic initiative.

The lack of women in science and engineering is a globally identified problem. There is so much sexism against women in tech ENGRAINED into people -- there are engineering schools in Canada and the US that don't even have women's bathrooms. At U of Calgary, they converted the janitors closets into women's bathrooms not that long ago (it was the 90's I think, but that was practically yesterday). There were 4 women in my graduating class in 2002 in a class of about 100.

So I don't think this move should be viewed as sexist. It is fighting sexism. You're right, there absolutely should not be a need for distinguishing sex in tech, but unfortunately, there is. Do your part by allowing women to gain equal status in the tech world with all of us guys by supporting and embracing opportunities like this.

Ummm for all you crazy people thinking it's sexist... Alicia Keys did such a good thing! time to get our heads out of this stupid patriarchy society!

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Is this a way to try and increase the number of women using BlackBerry next year so us men will probably be outnumbered by 70/30 instead of 56/44 that was just announced? =)

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Making it only available to women is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.. what if a way more deserving male is out there looking for scholarships.. he doesn't get them because he doesn't have tits?.. for all you guys thinking this isn't sexism.. try to think from a fairness pov and keep the genders out of it.. its like saying only blacks will be considered because they are a minority in the tech field...... RIDICULOUS

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I'm guessing we're finally seeing what her role at BlackBerry is shaping out to be. Kinda like an embassador for women to enter the world of tech. I don't think this is her only role but it's a great way to appeal to women by using a successful woman in the entertainment spotlight.

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Do I think this will fix anything... NO. The problem isn't women not being able to afford school bc honestly studies have shown women are dominating in that area. There have actually been initiatives to inspire young men to go to college. That aside, this is a band-aid. And not the right fix to the problem. The problem is the society within the industry that is male lead that tends to promote male leadership. The company cultures are the problem. Now by definition this is a sexist scholarship but honestly many scholarship do discriminate against who can and can't apply. There are scholarships for race, ethnicity, gender, religion, beliefs, politics, where your born, different hardships, being poor (makes since though), hell there are some for just being wealthy (dumb right lol) so this is nothing new. So I see no problem with this bc I see the problem is with the industry and the backers of discriminating scholarships. And for all the guys saying what if this were the other way, Google it, there are. I was offer two, one to be a male nurse and another to be a black male nurse. A friend of mine got offer one to be a Hispanic male nurse. They're there. My school jumps at males wanting to get in female dominated majors.

Wow, typical moronic male comments. Why can't you just let this be a positive for women around the world without all the B.S male ego crap? If men had to go through one tenth of what women had to endure in life, they'd be crying to mommy in a corner somewhere. Males have had it made since the beginning of time. Let it go and be proud of women moving forward in a positive way. Unreal. Oh by the way, I'm male.

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I don't understand why people are making a big deal out of this and calls this sexist. This is what America does to categories of people that were discriminated. Because they have a disadvantage one way or another. There are scholarships for blacks, asians, native american, whatever ethnicity. But giving a scholarship for whites simply wouldn't be right since they had no specific discrimination ever. It's the same in the college selection process. Except asians actually have a disadvantage but that's understandable in a way I suppose. I've seen other scholarships only for women. I'm surprised people are acting like this is a new thing. I mean there IS a split in opinion saying this is needed or just wrong but it has existed for a while.