Amazon and WISE create partnership to encourage UK women into careers in innovation and technology

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Amazon STEM partnership inspires Woman in Innovation

Amazon STEM partnership inspires Woman in Innovation

 September 13, 2018

WISE and Amazon have partnered to look at Women in Innovation across the UK to encourage them to fulfil their ambitions of a career in STEM industries. WISE campaigns for for gender balance in science, technology and engineering, from the classroom to the boardroom.

"We want to create a roadmap to encourage more women into innovation focused roles by combining quantitative and qualitative analysis highlighting that innovation is a key driver in STEM industries and that women are a key component of this," said Amazon and WISE.

Diversifying STEM industries

The WISE Amazon Research project's expansive aims include:

  • dentifying how and why women in innovation got into their careers
  • clarifying the benefits of working in innovative careers
  • identifying the contribution women are making to innovation in technology and the benefits it brings to business and the economy
  • exploring the potential for using the language of innovation to inspire women’s involvement in science, engineering and technology 
  • suggesting practical actions for companies, universities and learned societies seeking to increase the participation of women in research and development.

This report follows findings from WISE which show that, despite over 860,000 women in the UK working in STEM - 23 per cent of STEM roles in the UK - women account for just 15 per cent of management roles in science, engineering and technology.

Discovering the modern-day Marie Curies 

Amazon and WISE's recommendations will be supported by a newly-created Advisory Committee, chaired by Director, Consumer Retail at Amazon, Fiona McDonnell, and is made up of senior industry leaders including Dr Helen Finch, Head of Research & Development at Jaguar Land Rover and Mark Stewart, General Manager at Airbus UK.

“It is so important that we highlight the huge contribution women make to UK innovation because, for too long, that contribution has been largely untold. We’re doing this project to discover the modern-day Marie Curies and use their stories to inspire girls to follow in their footsteps,” said Helen Wollaston, WISE Chief Executive.

Amazon's Director of Consumer Retail, Fiona McDonnell, is working to identify where the issues lies: “It’s clear that greater diversity in the workplace positively impacts output, business performance and profitability," she said. Fiona commented further that "By delivering greater diversity, we can unlock a huge untapped potential and ensure the UK becomes the number one destination for innovation."

Helping women from less advantaged backgrounds

The partnership between Amazon and WISE promotes the Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary which helps young women from less advantaged backgrounds pursue careers in STEM industries.

The bursary is awarded to six students annually in universities in cities where Amazon have a tech Development Centre, including the University of Edinburgh, King’s College London and Churchill College at the University of Cambridge. All students are on courses that focus on high-tech innovation, including Electronic Engineering, Robotics & Intelligent Systems, and Computer Science.

In addition to providing financial support the students will be mentored by a female Amazon employee who works in the software space, on careers advice, CV building, and interview training. The students will also have the opportunity to apply for an internship at the local Amazon development centre.

The bursary aims to help break down barriers to women entering the UK’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) workforce with the objective of improving and diversifying the gender balance in the workplace.

Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon, commented: “We want to foster the next generation of high-tech superstars in Britain and help people from all walks of life invent for the future. We hope that over time this new scheme will make a big difference to many young women who one day will become future leaders in innovation.”

Success in Edinburgh

The scheme originated in Edinburgh and has been running there for three years. Professor Johanna Moore, Chair of Artificial Intelligence and Head of School of Informatics, Edinburgh University said: “We’ve been working with the team at Amazon for two years to bring the bursary scheme to our students, and we’re thrilled that it is extended beyond 2017. Students in the scheme have benefitted hugely, not only from Amazon’s financial support, but also from the opportunity to get experience and mentoring from professionals at the top of their game.”

Nineteen year old Katie Worton, who is studying Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science, is one of the students supported. 

“I’ve always dreamt of forging a career in a field that’s cutting edge and innovative and I value Amazon’s support. The scheme has given me the chance to grow thanks to real-life, hands-on experience during my placement at Amazon’s Development Centre in Edinburgh. It’s a fantastic programme, and I’d encourage any young woman who wants to explore a career in innovation to apply," said Katie.

Join talented women at Amazon

Amazon is indeed a prime employer for women and is the right place for women with a pioneering spirit. Search and apply for your next career move with one of the largest and most recognisable brands in the world.


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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