Atom funds Women in Technology scholarships at Durham University to find next generation of leaders
06 December 2023
Atom bank, the UK’s first app-based bank, is boosting Durham University’s Women in Technology programme with two new scholarships aimed at prospective female students from low-income backgrounds.
The Women in Technology programme was inspired by globally recognised tech leader Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, and was founded by Durham University alumnus Ian Ellison-Taylor, a distinguished engineer who is leading on Microsoft’s HoloLens in Seattle. The programme is now supported by a community of Durham Computer Science alumni.
The Atom-funded scholarships will offer two successful applicants £4k per annum for all three years of their course at Durham, as Atom and the University seek to inspire future female tech leaders. According to Tech Nation, just 26% of the tech workforce in the UK are women, while just 5% of leadership roles in technology are taken by women, highlighting the scale of the challenge and the need for focused initiatives such as this.
In the 2024 Complete University Guide, Durham’s expanding Department of Computer Science ranks 4th for its teaching and joint 4th for the employability of its students. The department has a stated objective of making Durham the number one University in the UK for women to study Computer Science. Atom’s support reflects this commitment, and is the latest element of a wider programme of cooperation between the bank and the University under their 5 year partnership.
Alongside funding the scholarships, Atom will provide mentoring, internship, placement and leadership opportunities to the successful applicants. The bank is particularly keen that the scholars also help the University and Atom to promote tech to women and girls across schools and colleges in the North East. This is a passion shared with Anne-Marie Imafidon through the coding for girls initiative championed by her charity Stemettes, which first partnered with Atom in 2019.
Inspiring the next generation is critical to rebalancing the UK’s tech talent pool, but it’s equally important that the pathways exist right now for women to play leadership roles in technology. Alongside being a signatory of the Tech Talent Charter, Atom also played a major role supporting Durham University in establishing the Diversity Matters project, promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in STEM across industry and academia. The bank was also one of the sponsors of the highly successful Tech Up programme that Durham University’s Professor Sue Black pioneered with the support of the Institute of Coding.
Edward Twiddy, Director of ESG at Atom, said: “We are delighted to be supporting two new scholars to join the excellent AMI Women in Technology programme every year from 2024. Through this funding we are unashamedly targeting the next generation of leaders for Atom and for the technology businesses of the future. Applications for the scholarships are now open, and we are really excited at the prospect of meeting the people who we hope will lead Atom in the future through their engagement in this programme.”
Professor Matthew Johnson, Head of the Department of Computer Science at Durham, said: “We are grateful to Atom Bank for their generous support as we strive to increase the reach of the highly successful AMI scholarship programme. Their contribution will help us to foster greater participation of talented women in our undergraduate degree programmes. The underrepresentation of women in the field poses a significant barrier to innovation.
“Our department is committed to not only creating a welcoming and inclusive environment, but also one that is vibrant, diverse, and thriving. The scholars participating in this program are called upon to serve as ambassadors for the department. Consequently, the impact of these scholarships extends beyond their recipients, influencing and inspiring a broader spectrum of students.”
Tara Kaul, current AMI scholar and third year undergraduate student, said: “My time at Durham University so far has been nothing short of amazing, and it would not have been possible without the invaluable financial support the AMI scholarship has given me and others. The commitment to investing in our education has not only lifted the weight of financial constraints but has pushed us closer to our educational goals.”
Applications are now open for the 2024 intake using the link below. Awards will be made in spring 2024.