The British Council announced the 15 women from Southeast Asia who won in its inaugural global Women in STEM Scholarships Programme.

The winners took part in a global call for applications organized by the British Council, the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.

The 15 scientists from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam will be travelling to the UK in autumn to start their master’s degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

The recipients will study at Liverpool John Moores University, University of Stirling and University of Glasgow in the UK.

The scholarship program supports the global need for greater diversity in science, by supporting early-stage women researchers to access international study opportunities in the UK.

The women can then pursue careers in STEM fields, as well as act as role models of the next generation of female scientists and engineers.

Women are traditionally underrepresented in STEM subjects globally and evidence shows the importance to science when there is greater diversity.

The initiative aims to support the growth of women in STEM, create more opportunities for women to excel in the field, as well as become role models for the next generation

According to data from the UN Scientific Education and Cultural Organization, fewer than 30 percent of researchers worldwide are women and only 30 percent of female students select STEM-related fields in higher education.

“We are delighted to be able to support the career development of women in science through these scholarships, which supports closer educational collaboration and exchange between the UK and East Asia,” said Director Leighton Ernsberger of Education and English of the British Council.

“We sincerely hope that it will prove to be a pivotal moment in the careers of these women and open doors to many opportunities in the future. We also believe these women will act as role models to the next generation of female scientists,” Ernsberger said.

The post-graduate fully funded scholarship programme, launched globally by the British Council in partnership with 19 UK universities, is aimed at benefiting women from South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Americas who aspire to access the UK’s renowned STEM courses but lack the financial resources.

It has been awarded to women with a background in STEM, who could demonstrate their need for financial support and who wish to inspire future generations of women to pursue careers in STEM.

Lizz Srisuwan from Thailand, who pursues a Master in Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, said: “I want to work on health policies for transgender and gender-diverse populations to alleviate health disparities and inequities.”

“The transgender and gender-diverse population have unique health needs and are usually unaddressed in standard health care,” she added. “They are usually unable to access health care for reasons such as fear of rejection, discrimination, stigmatisation, health policy barriers or legal gender recognition issues.”

The winners have emerged successful from a rigorous process alongside thousands of applicants to receive a fully funded study offer from one of the UK’s world-class universities that are among the world’s leaders in STEM subjects.

Complete financial support including tuition fees, stipend, travel costs, visa and health coverage fees are provided by the scholarship, with special support for mothers and for those who need English language training. Many of the winners will be pursuing their academic ambitions in STEM at a UK university for the first time.

The second round of the Women in STEM Scholarships Programme for 2021-2022 will continue this year.

Opportunities will be available to applicants from the eight countries of Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

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