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L-R: Nicki Shields, Nathan Bostock Chief Executive Officer of Santander UK, Beth MacKenzie and Jenson Button.

Beth MacKenzie from Heriot-Watt University has been selected as one of the 30 first-ever beneficiaries of the Santander Universities STEMships initiative.

The inaugural STEMships programme launched by Santander UK is dedicated to supporting female engineering students at universities across the country. The new initiative aims to support and incentivise more women to embark on a career in the UK engineering industry and responds to the skills shortage challenge currently facing the country’s engineering sector.

The thirty up-and-coming women engineers were announced by Santander UK’s CEO Nathan Bostock and ambassador Jenson Button at the 2019 Formula Student global competition at Silverstone this weekend.

Santander Universities’ inaugural STEMships programme aims to break down the barriers for women entering the engineering industry by providing aspiring female engineer students with the dedicated tools, resources and opportunities needed to succeed in the industry post university.

The thirty students will embark on a two-year support programme which offers: a £1,500 scholarship; an overseas experience at a leading engineering institution; unique networking events with prominent female leaders in the industry; membership to the Women’s Engineering Society; and mentorship and internship schemes through Santander’s wider networks.

Matt Hutnell, Director of Santander Universities UK commented: “We’re thrilled to be launching our unique STEMships to support and inspire the next generation of women engineers from across the UK. Having worked closely with Formula Student teams across our partner universities, we recognise the challenges facing female engineering students as they look to embark on careers in the industry. We hope the programme will support them with their career ambitions.”

A delighted Beth, who is about to start her 4th year of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “I’m delighted to be part of the STEMships programme and can’t wait to get started. Encouraging more women to study STEM subjects is hugely important and initiatives such as this play a vital role in helping break down barriers.”

Recent qualitative research by Santander Universities identified a number of barriers cited by female students as deterring them from considering engineering as a degree and a career path. These include: difficulties with funding an engineering degree; a shortage of engineering networks and communities designed to support women; and a lack of women engineer role models – with a recent report by the Women’s Engineering Society revealing that just 12.37% of all engineers in the UK are female.

Ahead of the announcement of the STEMship beneficiaries, Jenson took part in a discussion panel hosted by the face of Formula E, Nicki Shields on the topic of women in engineering and how to cultivate the next generation of female engineering talent. Joining Jenson on the panel was Nikki Rimmington, Vice President and Chief Planning Officer for Aston Martin Lagonda, Professor Karen Holford CBE, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University and Clare Sibley, Head of Materials Science at the Williams F1 Team.

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