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How to Find Scholarships for Women in STEM

Corbin Thompson -- An emerging culture of change aims to fix the STEM gender gap and improve the workplace and workforce.

What are your college goals? What do you want to have in your toolbox of skills after graduation? These questions and others like them are critical for any college student. They become even more important for female students looking for a career in STEM. More than ever, focusing on a career in science is key to your success because science can transfer to so many career paths.

For far too long, women have been "tracked" out of math and science careers. STEM fields have historically been dominated by men. Many women have avoided careers in STEM because of a non-spoken taboo. When an industry is dominated by men, women, and minorities may feel too intimidated to go in that direction.

There have also been fewer female role models in STEM for young girls to look up to. Also, because many teachers are women, they often pass their anxiety over math down to younger females. All these reasons and more prevent more females from pursuing a career in science and math. Because only 28% of the STEM workforce are women, it has created a culture that invisibly blocks women from these opportunities.

An Emerging Culture of Change in STEM

Fortunately, the push for more women in STEM is in full force. This movement has started with increased awareness of the gender gap in careers and wages. This new awareness is leading to change. As President Obama said in 2013:

“One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields, and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent…not being encouraged the way they need to.”

How Fixing the STEM Gender Gap Will Improve the Workplace

Fixing the STEM gender gap will benefit women in several ways. STEM jobs typically pay better than two-thirds of other careers but have the lowest percentage of women when compared to other fields. By having better-paying careers, they will be more economically stable. The STEM workforce itself will also benefit from having more diversity and viewpoints. There will also be less bias in scientific studies, leading to better research and conclusions.

This article will help women, parents, and teachers find scholarship opportunities for women interested in STEM. It will also cover the different kinds of scholarships and how to decide which scholarships to apply for. Finally, we will look at examples of STEM-specific scholarship opportunities.

What Kinds of Scholarships Are There?

There are several categories of broad scholarships available. They are needs-based scholarships, essay scholarships, and no-essay scholarships. Needs-based scholarships provide opportunities for students coming from poor families. Essay scholarships, as the name implies, have written essay requirements that are weighted heavily in the decision-making process. Conversely, no-essay scholarships are for students who do not wish to write an essay.

Choosing the kinds of scholarships you should apply for involves considering who you are. If you come from a wealthy family, a needs-based scholarship may not be an option for you. Are you a good writer? If so, consider applying for essay scholarships. Doing so will involve relying on your strengths as a writer.

Where Can I Find STEM Scholarships?

There are many ways to find scholarship opportunities. First, consider the schools you would like to attend. Contacting the school itself and asking about their scholarships is a great place to start. In many cases, applying to the college will automatically put you into consideration for any scholarships the college may have. All of it depends on your qualifications. A quick search of the college’s site may give you answers. You can also reach out to the college’s financial aid office.

Another source for finding scholarships is your guidance counselor in high school. They can help you not only narrow down scholarship choices based on your qualifications but also help you find specific scholarships you may have never considered. For instance, some scholarships are awarded based on hobbies. There are even scholarships for students who learn to speak the Klingon language from Star Trek!

A source of scholarships many people don’t consider is the U.S. Department of Labor. They can give you a wide range of scholarships to explore. With the age of the Internet, finding and cataloging scholarships is easier than ever.

There are also many unusual sources of scholarships people forget about or have never heard of. If you are employed or living with your parents (and they are employed), the employers may also be a source of scholarship help. Talk to the company’s HR department to find out what they offer. Try connecting your local civic groups, too. Some of the organizations that offer scholarships include:

  • American Legion
  • American Red Cross
  • American Medical Women’s Association

Finally, don’t forget about your local library. Their reference section will have scholarship possibilities as well.

STEM-Specific Scholarship Opportunities

STEM scholarships are those that focus solely on STEM academics. Some require remaining in the field for a given number of months or years to qualify. Some of these scholarships focus solely on helping women find more science and math college opportunities.

While there are far too many STEM scholarships to list in this article, a few specific STEM scholarships and sources for others are listed below.

    NASA People—The Science and Technology Scholarship Program scholarship, sponsored by NASA, is designed to help people achieve academic success in the fields NASA needs for their work. Although highly competitive, it represents a great opportunity for women. This scholarship comes with a service obligation to work at NASA after graduation.

    Pathways to Science—Not only is this a resource for STEM scholarships, but they specifically target women. Called The Women in STEM Scholarship, this opportunity is available to both undergraduates and graduates.—This organization’s mission is to fight student debt and find opportunities for students. Their list of STEM scholarships specifically for women is updated constantly with deadlines, award amounts, and other important details.


For decades, women have been held back both overtly and covertly from pursuing a career in sciences and mathematics. With awareness of the need to afford women the same opportunities as men, doors are finally opening for women that should have been opened long ago. With the Internet, finding several scholarships for STEM careers is easier than ever. It’s up to you to take advantage of these new opportunities to accelerate your career.

Corbin Thompson is a writer, author, and occasional composer. He is a frequent contributor to, where his main interests are health, education, and parenting. He currently resides in San Francisco with his two sons and golden retriever.

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