About the Google Women Techmakers Scholarship

The Google Women Techmakers Scholarship, previously known as Anita Borg Scholarship is aimed at providing visibility, community, and resources for women in technology. Google provides this scholarship every year in honor of Dr. Anita Borg’s vision of creating gender equality in the field of computer science. The scholarship consists of three components – scholarship money, retreat to one of the Google offices and networking with Googlers and other scholars.

It is highly competitive with Google receiving about 25,000 applications from the APAC region every year. In 2018, around 1250 candidates were shortlisted for phone interviews and finally, 73 students were awarded the scholarship. When I came across this scholarship, I decided to apply as I had pretty much nothing else to do at that time :P. The application consisted of three essay questions, which were mainly aimed at the applicant’s understanding of issues that affect diversity in tech and technical or social contributions to improve diversity. Along with the essays, we were required to submit our resume.

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The call for the next round of interview depends on the strength of your application. The essay answers should reflect who you are and the work that you do for the community. Academic excellence and leadership skills are also considered but if you don’t have a 9+ GPA, fret not. GPA is just one of the factors and if you have achieved something or worked on a project which speaks louder than your GPA, then you are good to go.

I received a mail about a month later asking me for a preferred interview date and time. I was quite excited as it was a phone interview with a Google Engineer. The interviewer was from the Bangalore office and we had a very engaging discussion on a variety of topics varying from how tech has changed the world and the downsides of it. It went on for about 45 minutes. I also got to know more about the scholarship program and how Google would help me reach out to the community if I got the scholarship.

A few weeks passed after the interview and I hadn’t heard back from them so assuming the worst, I forgot about it. One fine evening, I received a phone call informing me that I had received the scholarship and I would be flying to Singapore for the retreat. After all the hustle and bustle of getting a visa, I finally left for Singapore on October 9th. The entire trip is funded by Google along with a stay at a fancy 5-star hotel. We had a welcome dinner at the hotel that night where we met the other scholars and some Googlers. What started off as an evening with strangers turned into a fun-filled karaoke night with everyone trying to get to know each other.

The next day, we reached the Google office in the morning and started off with breakfast in their cafeteria which has an extensive variety of food and beverages. After breakfast, we headed to one of the rooms in the office where we were heard from different speakers about their experiences. There were events, talks, and workshops planned out for three days. Most of them revolved around finding solutions to problems women in STEM faced. I heard some amazing stories about how some of the scholars fought against unequal pay and discrimination in workplaces.

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We were pampered with a lot of Google goodies and we got to share stories and experiences with women from different countries. Despite coming from different cultures and countries, we shared a lot in common. I could relate with them when it came to professional as well as personal life. One of the biggest takeaways for me from this retreat was the #IamRemarkable workshop. We were given a sheet of paper and asked to write and later read out three reasons why we were remarkable in our professional and personal lives. It turned out to be a pretty daunting task and it went on to show how much we undermine ourselves and how difficult we find it to talk about our achievements.

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At the end of the retreat, we had bonded with complete strangers with whom we shared stories, experiences and laughed our hearts out. That was the most beautiful part of my trip – the other amazing, talented women I got to meet. We still remain in touch through social media and continue to support each other. The retreat was just the start of an amazing journey ahead. With the resources and support from Google, each of the scholars continue to make a greater impact on the community.

Women Techmakers is an amazing opportunity to showcase your abilities and do something for the community. This year’s scholarship application is currently open. The deadline is April 30, 2020, at 23:59 SGT. (It is open only to first and second-year undergraduate students). You can find more details about the eligibility criteria here.

If anyone needs any guidance in applying for this scholarship, please feel free to drop me an email at sunitha98selvan@gmail.com or contact me on LinkedIn. If you were too lazy to read through the entire article, you can watch me talk about the WTM Scholarship here.

Here’s a picture of the 2018 Scholars:

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