What Happened? Only 500 Women Applied to Alicia Keys’ BlackBerry Scholars Program


The BlackBerry Scholars Program is an incredible opportunity for women to get involved in industries that are typically male dominated such as maths and sciences. The program offered a four-year scholarship program for outstanding women around the world that are entering their first year of undergraduate study at an accredited college or university. The potential applicant pool is enormous, so when I heard that only 500+ women actually applied to the program, I was baffled.

Here’s a thought: if you’re looking to attract intelligent, technology-minded women to a scholarship fund for maths and sciences, maybe Alicia Keys wasn’t the most representative leader.

From the official media release: “Over the 7 week application period, the BlackBerry Scholars Program received over 500 applications from women across 43 countries.” Considering the potential application pool is in the millions, what happened?

What’s frustrating about this, is that the panel of women who are on the selection committee, are incredibly intelligent and motivated women in science, with huge followings.

Barbara Stymiest, Chairperson, BlackBerry (Canada)
Shinta W. Dhanuwardoyo, Founder & Chairwoman of Bubu.com (Indonesia)
Delphine Ernotte-Cunci, Executive Director, Orange (France)
Linda D. Hallman, Executive Director and CEO, American Association of University Women (USA)
Sara Martinez Tucker, President and CEO, National Math and Science Initiative (USA)
Belinda Parmar, Founder and CEO, Lady Geek (UK)

But where is the support? It doesn’t seem like they did much to actually promote the program through their personal networks. Here is a breakdown of the Twitter support.

One tweet from Shinta from July (a month after the application deadline):

There is no sign of Alicia Keys tweeting about it.

No Tweet results for “blackberry scholars” lang:en from:aliciakeys.

Delphine Ernotte-Cunci doesn’t seem interested:

No Tweet results for “blackberry scholars” from:DelphineErnotte.

There’s no tweets from the NMSI either:

No Tweet results for “blackberry scholars” from:NMSI.

Nothing from the American Association of University Women:

No Tweet results for “blackberry scholars” from:AAUW.

Belinda Parmar has one tweet from back in June (just 2 days before the application deadline).

The #BBScholars hashtag wasn’t exactly a hit with the selection committee either:

No Tweet results for #bbscholars from:NMSI OR from:aliciakeys OR from:DelphineErnotte OR from:nmsi OR from:AAUW OR from:ladygeek.

Sure, Twitter isn’t the only measure of their promotions, but it’s a pretty telling indicator.

  • Sonyafun

    The boss doesn’t seem like a real friendly guy. ????? Anyway guess someone has to be blamed for only 500 women applying. Right? Alicia did her thing, she can’t be blamed for everything.

  • besurisis

    I would have definitely applied had I known about it. Another missed opportunity.

  • RP Singh

    Why is 500 a small number? How many outstanding women can there be in 43 countries, how many outstanding people in general, for that matter?

  • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

    Well here’s a way to think about the potential candidate pool:

    6 billion people on Earth.
    1.5 billion are considered “youth”.
    Half are girls (750 million).

    Even if 0.01% of those girls are considered “outstanding”, that’s still 75,000 girls that could have applied for the program.

  • RP Singh

    How many of those speak English?