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Four Malaysian women have won the prestigious British Council global Women in STEM scholarships. These local women were selected through a rigorous process involving thousands of applicants.
These four Malaysians will be pursuing their master's degrees at universities in the UK which are among the world's leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
In a press release earlier this month, the British Council announced the names of the recipients of the scholarships. They are: - Debbie Ann Loh, pursuing MSc International Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University - Jaiswarry Sundaram, pursuing MSc Industrial Biotechnology at Liverpool John Moores University - Nurimanina Najwa Shahrin, pursuing MSc Aquatic Pathobiology at the University of Stirling - Ilyana Hassya Azmannizam, pursuing MSc Earth Futures: Environments, Communities, Relationships at University of Glasgow
These four Malaysian women are part of a total of 15 women from Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam who will be travelling to the UK in autumn this year with complete financial support including tuition fees, stipend, travel costs, visa and health coverage fees through the scholarship.
There's special support for mothers and for those who need English language training.
According to the British Council, many of the winners will be pursuing their academic ambitions in STEM at a UK university for the first time
"We are delighted to be able to support the career development of women in science through these scholarships, which support closer educational collaboration and exchange between the UK and Malaysia," said British Council Malaysia director Jazreel Goh.
"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."
There are fewer than 30% of researchers worldwide who are women and only 30% of female students select STEM-related fields in higher education, according to data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the British Council said.
The scholarship programme, therefore, aims to increase opportunities in STEM for girls and women.
Meanwhile, one of the four Malaysians, Nurimanina Najwa, shared that too many girls and women in Malaysia are held back by biases, social norms, and expectations that are influenced by gender stereotypes
"They (Malaysian girls and women) are particularly underrepresented in STEM education and careers. I want to motivate young girls, regardless of race or religion, to explore typically male-dominated fields," she said.
On the other hand, Loh believes that talent is everywhere, it only needs opportunity.
"I'm very grateful to the British Council for opening this door for me. I hope to inspire and encourage more Malaysian girls and women to boldly pursue their ambition, passion, and create impact through STEM," Loh said.