Feature Model Practice Women in Engineering Scholarships
Principle VI: Civic and Community Engagement
2014 Challenge Submission
When it comes to workforce diversity, Palantir, like many other companies in Silicon Valley, struggles to identify and address the root causes of the constantly evolving issue of gender representation in technology. What sets it apart is its unique, multi-pronged strategy, which includes the Women in Engineering Scholarship.
“I have seen our Women in Engineering Scholarship evolve during my three years of involvement...I am thrilled by the impact of facilitating a roundtable discussion among the finalists and Palantir employees. In this informal environment, we share experiences - both professional and personal - and inspire each other.”
Support Engineer, Palantir
Palantir provides financial rewards ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to female students that are not at all contingent on whether they will (or have any intention to) become Palantirians. It aims to solve a problem bigger than Palantir: under-representation of women applying to (and thus employed in) technical positions. The scholarship stemmed from the realization that women aren’t likely to advance professionally or academically without receiving support early on in meaningful learning endeavors. The scholarship has evolved continuously over the past four years to ensure that it accurately targets the group Palantir can impact most.
Since the scholarship’s inception in 2011, Palantir has awarded more than $100,000 to finalists, and receives between 35 – 90 applications each year for the scholarship.
How does this model practice work?
The focus of the program has changed since it began. When Palantir first ran the scholarship, it was open to all minority students in the Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) fields. During the second and third years, the focus narrowed to female students in undergraduate, Masters, or PhD programs in STEM fields. This year, the target group is female undergraduate students.
To apply, students submit a transcript, resume, and response to an essay prompt. Applications are reviewed by members of Palantir’s Women in Engineering group and finalists are selected to receive an all expenses-paid trip to the company’s Palo Alto headquarters, where they experience a day of a career in technology, and spend time getting to know women engineers at Palantir. The agenda provides many opportunities for finalists to interact with the employees, and also includes an office tour, product demonstration, career development discussions, and fireside chats.
How can I adopt this model practice in my workplace?
In order for another company to undertake this diversity initiative, it will need a team with a broad vision for how the scholarship will be structured, and the financial means to support such a venture.
This team will make decisions about the qualifications that applicants must meet, the application process, timeline of scholarship, and prize specifics. At Palantir, there is a coordinator who translates the team’s vision into reality, working with groups across the company:
• Engineering Taskforce: Drive the vision and focus of the scholarship and determine timeline, and review submissions.
• Design: Create media content and website designs for scholarship instructions and application.
• Developers: Launch website for application submission.
• Recruiting: Spread awareness on campuses across the country.
More information about the scholarship can be found on Palantir’s website.