Careers in science, technology, and engineering are dominated by men. Statistics vary throughout time and space, but oft-cited figures – such as women making up only 11% of the US engineering workforce in 2003 – paint a pessimistic figure. In light of that, BlackBerry’s new four-year scholarship programme for women is an extraordinarily unexpected and appreciable move by the Canadian smartphone manufacturer.

The global programme invites women entering their first year of undergraduate study in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and maths to apply for full recompense of tuition fees. There are, of course, a few conditions: the women taking part are expected to use complimentary BlackBerry smartphones and take part in a number of BlackBerry projects, with vague information as to what that entails laid out on the “terms and eligibility” page.

Despite this, the move is a welcome one; it is a rare, co-ordinated push at challenging gender segregation in the workforce, and it has the potential for long-term positive impact on not only the mobile computing space, but overall gender equality as well. It is a valuable effort to make traditionally male topics more accessible and attractive to young women, and that is key to improving the representation of women in these industries. So, BlackBerry: bravo.

You can find out more about the BlackBerry Scholars programme here.