Annual Cybersecurity Scholarship aims to empower women in STEM

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

In celebration of International Women’s Day, ESET Australia is proud to announce its third annual Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship program.

For the second year, ESET Australia has teamed up with Federal Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security, Clare O’Neil, to empower women pursuing education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. As part of this commitment, ESET is offering a Cybersecurity Scholarship of $5,000 to an exemplary female student currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate program within the STEM field.

Applications for the scholarship are now open and will close on 1 May 2024, with the winner announced on World Day for Cultural Diversity, 21 May 2024. In addition to the award, Minister Clare O’Neil is extending an exclusive opportunity to the scholarship recipient, an invitation to Parliament House for a meeting during a sitting week – a unique opportunity for professional engagement and recognition.

Addressing under-representation is an ongoing issue

ESET Asia Pacific and Japan (AJP) President, Parvinder Walia, believes that female professionals are still underrepresented in the cybersecurity industry and that the scholarship will break down barriers and support the next generation of female cybersecurity experts.

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“We believe this initiative, and our alignment with Minister O’Neil, as a leader for Australia’s Cyber Security portfolio, will inspire more women into the IT Security sector,” Mr Walia says.

Minister Clare O’Neil also believes that the scholarship will go a long way in encouraging more women into entering the cybersecurity and STEM field.

“We are embarking on a new era of cybersecurity capability in this country and are aiming to be a world leader in cyber security by 2030,” Minister O’Neil says.

On IWD – and every day – women in STEM need more support and encouragement

Although the number of females in cybersecurity is growing, on IWD experts say it’s important that Australia motivates and inspires more women into the field.

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The latest data from STEM Equity Monitor revealed that women comprise only 15 per cent of the STEM-qualified workforce in Australia, but this proportion is increasing. The Australian Cyber Security Growth Network estimates that Australia will need in excess of 16,000 skilled workers by 2026 and that encouraging female professionals into the technology space will go some way to fill those roles.

The 2023 winner of the scholarship, Shradha Angrish, is studying a double degree for a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mechanical) and Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

“Being awarded this scholarship is an honour and a privilege that inspires me to do more…It’s an incredible reminder that there are people and support systems that want me to succeed,” Ms Angrish said when she was announced as the award winner.

2022 winner, Alaina Lawson, who studied a Bachelor of IT majoring in cybersecurity at the Australian National University, went on to work in an engineering role with a cybersecurity firm, alongside her full-time studies.

Inviting tomorrow’s scholarship winners to apply today

Applicants for the ESET Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship must be enrolled in or accepted to an accredited college or university within Australia, be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and have a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA (or equivalent GPA in 9.0 scale).

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Mr Walia hopes that initiatives like the Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship will encourage more females into the sector.

“Eradicating cybercrime needs a global army of passionate cybersecurity evangelists with different perspectives. The increase of women coming into this robust workforce adds to the [industry’s] strength and diversity of expertise,” he says.

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]