GCSB awards three scholarships to support women in STEM

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) has awarded three $10,000 scholarships to women studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at New Zealand tertiary institutions.

The scholarship programme is an important part of the GCSB’s efforts to raise the overall profile of STEM-related careers among women, which it hopes in turn will help increase the diversity of its workforce and address its gender pay gap. This year, at least one scholarship was reserved for a Māori or Pacifika student.

“I would like to congratulate the three recipients and acknowledge the calibre of the 143 applications we received,” Mr Hampton, Director-General of the GCSB.

The recipients are Olivia Morrison from Victoria University of Wellington, Tayla Forward and Gemma Nash both from the University of Auckland. Each will receive $10,000 to go towards study-related costs.

“This is only the second year running the GCSB scholarship programme. The initiative came about after I had the agency undertake some intelligence on itself to see if our workforce was sufficiently diverse and inclusive to support our mission,” Mr Hampton said.

“Our analysis showed we had room for improvement. As a result the GCSB set a target of reducing its gender pay gap to no more than 5 per cent by 2021 and developed a plan which included the scholarship programme to make it happen.

“Through relentless focus on our action plan, the GCSB has reduced its gender pay gap from 11.68 per cent to 5.86 per cent in less than two years.

“While recipients are not obliged to work for GCSB in the future, the scholarships are helping to raise awareness of the STEM-related career paths available to women in GCSB such as engineering, computer science and technical analysis.

“This is reflected in our recent graduate recruitment which attracted just over 300 applications, of which 124 (41%) were women. Of the six graduate placements offered for the Bureau’s technical stream, three (50%) went to women. This is up significantly from 2016 where we attracted just 76 applications, of which only 11 (14%) were women and no placements in the technical stream went to women.

“I believe the scholarship programme is having a significant impact on helping us identify previously hidden talent in the STEM.

“We need to be encouraging women at a younger age to be thinking of STEM-related career paths. These are skills which are in high demand, and I believe the demand will only increase in the future.”

For further information about the scholarship programme can be found here.

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Media contact: media@nzic.govt.nz / 04 819 7104