Statistics from “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2014,” prepared by the staff of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, show approximately 25 percent of incoming female freshmen intend to major in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) field. Meanwhile, more than 40 percent of incoming males take up a concentration in one of these areas.

However, there’s been a push in recent years to provide women with greater access to these fields. In some cases, this takes the form of scholarships.

Lighting the way

As a means to make it easier to break into the male-dominated field, there are a number of financial aid opportunities available to women who are interested in pursuing a major and, ultimately, a career in science.

A prime example of that is the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship, which honors women and minorities in oceanic fields of study, including but not limited to marine biology, oceanography and maritime archaeology. The program itself was created with the intention of increasing women and minorities in these disciplines.

Though the aforementioned scholarship was privately established through an individual, a number of financial aid opportunities also exist through companies with which you may already be familiar.

Take, for example, the For Women in Science Fellowship established by L’Oreal USA in 1998. Since the scholarship’s inception, the popular makeup company has awarded more than 2,250 scientists in more than 100 countries. The organization recently announced its five latest recipients, each of whom will receive $60,000 to advance their postdoctoral research.

“As the global leader in beauty, L’Oreal’s pioneering legacy of innovation is built upon our scientific workforce – which is made up of more than 70 percent women – and we are proud to recognize the achievements of these fellows through our ongoing support of women in science,” Frederic Roze, CEO of L’Oreal USA, stated in a press release from the company.

New opportunities

L’Oreal isn’t the only organization to take notice of the diminished female science community. As the need for women in the field become more evident, new companies are stepping up to make sure that need is being met.

Earlier this year, the creators of Cards Against Humanity, the infamous “party game for horrible people,” announced plans to develop a brand new scholarship for undergraduate women pursuing degrees in the STEM fields.

“Women are underrepresented in science, tech, engineering and math,” Josh Dillon, co-creator of Cards Against Humanity, said when the scholarship was originally announced in March. “We felt like the funding from this pack could have the greatest impact by making it possible for more women to get an education in those fields, and by giving them a platform to share their work and their passion for science.”

The funds for the Cards Against Humanity Science Ambassador scholarship are currently being raised through a newly developed “Science Pack” expansion. Later this year, video applications will be reviewed and the chosen recipient will receive a full-tuition scholarship for a four-year degree starting in the fall of 2016.

A solid start

Though many might say there’s still a long way to go, providing funding to encourage women to pursue their scientific passions creates a solid foundation. As more opportunities like these become available, it’s quite likely we’ll see an increase of women in scientific fields.

For more information about scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities, please visit Communityforce website.