Central England Co-operative has launched a bursary programme to encourage women into traditionally male-dominated sectors such as IT and engineering.
The society is donating up to £20,000 every year for the next three years to help Birmingham City University students taking IT and digital subjects, as well as science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
It set up the Central England Co-operative Fund – which is also open to male students – after joining forces with the university last year to develop skills and improve regional productivity through closer co-operation between business and academia on research and other projects.
Professor Hanifa Shah, executive dean for the university’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment, said: “Our partnership with the Central England is all about improving opportunities for people and widening the reach of higher education.
“We are delighted to receive this donation to help us provide financial support for students, including female students wanting to pursue STEM related subjects.
“As a member organisation of Women in Science and Engineering, we know that STEM subjects and careers can be male-dominated. And it is of the utmost importance for the aspirations of all young people and the future of our economy in the west midlands that more women enter the field. Initiatives like this are a fantastic way to make sure this happens.”
Central England chief executive Martyn Cheatle said: “Everyone at the society is proud to announce the launch of this bursary and excited to see the impact it will have on students.
“The fund is a great way of helping students study subjects that are vital to helping the local area and beyond grow in the future. I cannot think of a better way of helping to grow and boost our communities than with a scheme like this.”