DEC 2023


Breaking Gender Barriers in Higher Education & STEM Careers

In the context of higher education, particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), the importance of girls’ education cannot be overstated. Historically, women have been underrepresented in higher education, especially in STEM fields. However, the need to rectify this gender disparity is more pressing than ever.


While educational attainment for girls has improved significantly in India, there are still gaps in areas of employment and pay parity. “The country has attained parity in enrolment across all levels of education. However, it has reached only 36.7% parity on economic participation and opportunity,” according to a report of the World Economic Forum.


The following reasons underscore the necessity for interventions like scholarships and employability skills training programs, to support female students in India.


  1. Fostering Inclusivity and Gender Equality: Historically, women have represented a smaller percentage of students in higher education. Encouraging more women to pursue STEM will help achieve a balanced representation.
  2. Addressing Skill Shortage: A diverse talent pool that includes women with strong qualifications in technical fields is vital for filling skill gaps and enhancing the technological capabilities of the nation.
  3. Economic Empowerment: Higher education empowers women economically, enhancing not only their individual financial independence but also contributing to the overall economic development of the country.
  4. Global Competitiveness: By encouraging the education of girls in STEM, India can reinforce its global competitiveness and secure its position as a leader in science and technology.
  5. Encouraging Role Models: When girls have access to higher education, especially in STEM fields, they become role models for future generations and inspire other girls, creating a self-sustaining cycle of progress.
  6. Social Progress: Advancing female education in STEM contributes to overall social progress, encouraging a more inclusive and diverse society where opportunities are based on merit and potential rather than gender.

Smile Foundation’s Scholarship Programmes for Girls

Smile recognized the need to address the gender gap in STEM and thus launched a scholarship programme PAN India. Our holistic approach equips aspiring female engineers with the tools they need to excel. We offer financial support for STEM education while also providing essential learning tools to them. The girls are selected from a pool of young women applicants pursuing first-year engineering in private, Govt. colleges and aided colleges.

Currently, Smile Foundation operates six active scholarship projects in collaboration with esteemed donors including Deutsche Bank, Quantiphi, Quest Global, and Siemens. These projects collectively benefit over 2,000 students. Our commitment to increasing this figure ensures that more and more young women are granted the opportunity to excel in sectors with high growth potential and make a significant contribution to our development. Some key features of these scholarship projects are:

Financial Assistance

We offer scholarships for the four-year duration of the engineering course, covering the tuition fee and ensuring that economic constraints do not impede their academic progress.

Learning Tools

Each scholarship recipient is provided with a laptop and other essential resources, ensuring that they have the technology required for online learning and research.

Employability Skills

The programme provides training in employability and communication, and internships to equip scholars with the skills required to not just graduate but to thrive in the competitive world.

Industry Exposure

Smile Foundation helps students visit the sites, offices, and different departments of potential employers based on their interests, education, and industry needs.

Domain Skills

Scholars are also provided with domain/technical skills training based on industry needs and in alignment with their chosen fields in the second year of the course.

Placement Assistance

Our scholarship programme provides placement assistance in the fourth year of the course and helps the scholars with aptitude tests, mock tests, and mock interviews.

Our Girls Deserve Much More

Smile Foundation is committed to the long-term success of our scholars. A retention strategy is in place, including the regular review of academic performance, counseling services, and mentoring. We ensure that our students have the support and guidance they need to stay on their path to success.

As we celebrate the strides made in promoting engineering scholarships for young girls, we must also acknowledge that there is more work to be done. Encouraging girls to pursue STEM education and providing them with the support they need is an ongoing effort. As more girls receive these opportunities, we move one step closer to a future where engineering and other STEM disciplines know no gender boundaries. It’s a future where innovation and progress are driven by the talent, determination, and dreams of all, regardless of gender.

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