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STEM: there is still work to be done on gender equality

The female population is underrepresented in many of the activities carried out at technical universities. This is also the case at the Politecnico di Milano, where women represent less than 30% of its 47,000 students and 1,400 researchers. The discrepancy is big, however, if we look closer, we can see an even greater imbalance among all engineering students, where only 1 in 4 is female.

If we focus in further still, the figure falls to 20% in the case of some courses such as Mechanical, Electronic, Computer and Aerospace Engineering. 

Read Alumnae - Ingegnere e Tecnologie


POP – Pari Opportunità Politecniche programme (Polytechnic Equal Opportunities) is the strategic programme through which the University is committed to guaranteeing an environment for studying and working that respects gender identity, and different abilities, cultures and origins. Within it, there are various initiatives to promote STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) among girls in upper schools and incentivise them to enrol at Politecnico di Milano. Girls@Polimi scholarships, for example, funds academic scholarships for future students enrolling on engineering courses with a low percentage of females (mechanics, electronics and computing), which offer successful candidates € 8000 euros each, for each of the three years of the degree, in addition to free accommodation. 

Discover more about Girls@Polimi

“Awareness of gender diversity is a first step, which must be followed by concrete action not only within our universities, but at the wider level and in the international context. Building networks and supporting common causes increases our ability to influence decision makers”

comments vice rector Donatella Sciuto, stressing the international and systematic aspects of this imbalance.

To this end, to guide the actions that need to be undertaken, we have written two working instruments: the first is Gender Balance, an annual analysis of the University from the perspective of gender in academic programmes and work, among teaching and technical-administrative staff. It sets out objectives, tools and directions; the specific plan of action to be undertaken, over a three-year period, is described in the Gender Equality Plan: “we have set aside a specific budget”, says the rector’s office, with the objective of “recognising the dignity of every person in their work and studies, guaranteeing equality of treatment, promoting initiatives aimed at removing discrimination in training, access to jobs, orientation and during careers. 

Read the Gender budget and Gender equality plan

What you are reading is an article from the latest issue of the Magazine of the Alumni of the Politecnico di Milano. (read it here). MAP is one of the many initiatives created by Alumni Politecnico di Milano. If you want to receive two issues of the magazine in paper format, consider donating..

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Politecnico and Amazon together to support female students of STEM subjects

Encouraging young women in their ambition to pursue a career in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is one of the Politecnico’s diversity & inclusion objectives. Through the POP – Pari Opportunità Politecniche programme (Polytechnic Equal Opportunities), the university is committed to guaranteeing a study and work environment that respects gender identities, different skills, cultures and origins. 

This strategic plan often aligns with the objectives of large companies: such as Amazon, which, for the fourth consecutive year, has awarded the  Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary to support training in areas where, unfortunately, the proportion of female students is still low, helping the recipients to become leaders of the tech future and an example for many young women studying sciences.  

The Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary consists of a  €6,000 grant for the 2021/2022 academic year , with possible renewal for the following two years. In addition to supporting female students financially, Amazon also makes available its company managers, as mentors to help the students to develop useful skills for future work, such as building an effective CV or training for interview at Amazon or other companies. 

There are four bursaries this year, one of which is in collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano . The winner - Jihad Founoun   - is currently in her first year of Computer Engineering. The other recipients include Valentina Cristoferi, studying Computer Engineering at the Politecnico di Torino; Elisa Cacace studying Computer Engineering at the ‘Tor Vergata’ University of Rome and Giorgia Orofino, studying Computer Engineering at the University of Cagliari.  

Jihad Founoun
Jihad Founoun 


 The passion for computer science is a “family affair” for Jihad Founoun  , a twenty-year-old from Monza of Moroccan origin, who enrolled in the Computer Engineering course at the Politecnico di Milano in part thanks to the encouragement by her developer sister:

“I graduated from the Istituto Professionale Odontotecnico (Dentistry College) but I have always been good in science and my sister encouraged me to change direction at university. I like programming and I love the idea of being able to manage and solve big problems through a 'simple' code”.

Jihad Founoun would like to become a teacher to make information technology more accessible to more people.

I think it's important to have have inspiring female role models in STEM subjects, as happened to me with my sister Amina. To all girls interested in STEM subjects, I would like to say: don’t be put off by prejudices.Fortunately, there are projects such as Amazon's Women in Innovation Bursary, thanks to which I will have the necessary support to continue on my course and fulfil my dreams”

You too can support future female students in Engineering courses with low female participation rates: donate to Girls@Polimi. Click here.

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Girls@Polimi scholarships: Politecnico bets on future engineers

15 scholarships in 2022 of € 24,000 each (€ 8,000 per year, for the entire three-year period): these are the Girls @ Polimi scholarships, for girls who choose to study Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, who are attending courses with a low female presence (Aerospace, Automation Engineering, Electrical, Electronics, Information Technology, Mechanics and Industrial Production).

The project was funded by Politecnico together with 9 companies (Bain & Company Italy, Banco BPM, Eurofins Foundation, Fastweb, Gruppo Autostrade per l’Italia, Gruppo Nestlé in Italia, Intesa Sanpaolo, Leonardo, NHOA) and thanks to Alumni and Alumnae, who donated to support young girls in achieving their study and career goals in innovation and technology in STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

"There is the prejudice that a person does not have a talent for science, but it is worth noting that no one is born with a talent for something and viceversa - explains Vice Rector Sciuto - The context and the environment and even the teachers who meet during the course of study create this type of prejudice. The problem is that when this idea sticks to it, then it stays. For this you have to work a lot on children. We must ensure that this prejudice does not exist " 

comments Vice Rector Donatella Sciuto to SkyTG24.

Girls @ Polimi is an opportunity to encourage girls to become engineers by enrolling at Politecnico: the project is aimed at female students who are still attending the fourth and fifth years of high school and are thinking about their university future . It is a crucial moment in which young women and young people make decisions that will affect their academic and professional future. Intervening at that moment in the life of female students is crucial to intercepting the potential engineers and scientists of the future.

girls @ polimi

Unfortunately, even as of today, professions such as engineering are considered a "natural habitat" for men and an achievement for women - as stated by the Vice Rector Sciuto in the book Alumnae - Engineer and Technologies -. Often pursuing an engineering career requires girls to be extra motivated due to prejudices and models imposed by conformist society .

For this reason, Politecnico has created Girls@Polimi, a project of economic support for merit and the right to study, located within Gender POP - Equal Opportunities Politecniche , one of the strategic lines of development through which the University is committed to guaranteeing female students, in addition to the financial contribution, an inclusive environment.

An action of cultural transformation that starts from the corridors and the university classrooms, able to support the students during their studies with training and placement actions so that they can reach the own professional achievement. And contribute to triggering a virtuous circle, in turn becoming a model for the students of tomorrow.

You too can support the Girls @ Polimi scholarships with a donation starting from 10 euros. Click here .

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ENHANCE: Politecnico for gender equality and diversity

"Awareness of the gender gap is a first step that must be followed by concrete actions not only within our universities, but also in a global context. The importance of building networks, like ENHANCE, and joining common causes increases our ability to influence decision makers "

Pro-rector Donatella Sciuto comments on the result of the first annual report on diversity and gender equality within ENHANCE , the alliance formed in starting from 2020 from 7 universities of excellence (including Politecnico) that wishes to promote gender equality and diversity within higher education institutions.

You can read the report here. The reports highlights the potential of the universities involved in making academic opportunities accessible to all and promoting inclusion and equal opportunities as main values in their strategies.

Credits: Martin Braun


There are three main objectives of the report, which allow to identify the common challenges to be faced and to monitor the improvements brought about by the implemented actions:

  1. encourage and support students and young female researchers with fewer opportunities to successfully undertake and complete a STEM degree program, as well as to participate in mobility projects;
  2. offer empowerment tools to under-represented and disadvantaged groups;
  3. develop training resources related to diversity and gender equality to be used in higher education institutions, promoting awareness of these issues.

“Although the female population is under-represented in many of the activities carried out at our universities, the ENHANCE initiatives have achieved noteworthy gender parity, with 54% male participation and 46% female participation”.

explains Melih Özkardes, who coordinates the working group dedicated to Diversity and Gender Equality within ENHANCE. And he adds:

"Awareness of diversity and gender equality in a group increases the chances of developing innovative ideas and allows you to work in a climate of greater well-being".


In order to learn about, cultivate and enhance the diversity of the polytechnic community, the University in recent years has developed various initiatives that are fully integrated into the vision supported by Enhance.

Among these, there is the POP - Pari Politecnico Opportunities , the strategic program with which the Politecnico di Milano is committed to guaranteeing a study and work environment that respects gender identities, different abilities, cultures and backgrounds. The POP program is developed along 5 strategic lines of action : gender identity, culture, nation and religion, sexual orientation, different abilities and psychological well-being.

Within the POP, there are also initiatives to promote STEM subjects among high school girls , such as Girls @ Polimi , scholarships for future students enrolled in engineering courses with low percentage of women (Mechanics, Electronics and Computer Science), which make 8000 euros available to deserving candidates each, repeatable for the three years of the degree , in addition to free accommodation.

EnginHERing is aimed instead to high school students, to bring female students closer to the choice of engineering faculty through the passionate words and experiences of female students , researchers and Alumnae of the Polytechnic tell us about the still little explored reality of engineers.

You too can support the Girls @ Polimi scholarships with a donation starting from 10 euros. Click here .

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Best Of Home

On the rise: 234 scholarships in 2021

Last update: 17/06/2022

We are very pleased to be able to say that, in 2021, we broke the 2020 record: this year 234 students benefited from a scholarship, thanks to 205 donors (individuals and companies) who dedicated the total amount of 1,939,464 euros to the young people of Politecnico.

best of borse 2021

How were these donations distributed? At Politecnico there are many forms of support for the right to study and merit. Some of these projects welcome free donations (starting from 5 euros) and allow the creation of funds that will go to make up a scholarship or doctorate. Other projects require Alumni to form donor groups capable of fully supporting a female student. Still others invite companies and institutions to take on this support. Here are some examples.


The Circle of Donors is the program dedicated to donors who wish to support the best master's students , offering prestigious scholarships in able to compete with those of the best international universities, which attract the most promising young people.

Circle students receive € 10,000 per year for the two years of the master's degree and have the opportunity to take advantage of a personal mentoring path with donors . They are chosen on the basis of academic merit criteria from among the best three-year undergraduates who continue their path at the Politecnico also at the Master's. A "club of 110 and honors", serious and focused on the goal : in addition to academic performance, to access the Circle you must respect a very strict schedule and graduate in the first session. Discover the Circles fellows:


"But what exactly does an engineer do? Can I do it even if I haven't done the scientific? Will I be good enough? " Many high school students ask themselves these questions when evaluating the choice of their university path. Many of their comrades also pose them; the difference is that, among girls, only a very small percentage will eventually choose to enroll in an engineering course. At the Politecnico di Milano, women in engineering faculties are one for every 4 students, while in Architecture and Design the presence of women in some cases exceeds 50%.

Read the comment Professor Donatella Sciuto, Deputy Vice Rector of Politecnico, interviewed by Alley Oop - Il Sole 24 Ore

On the site you can find out how to support the students of Politecnico thanks to the Girls @ Polimi project.


In 2021, the role of companies and institutions close to the University was also very important, as they chose to dedicate part of their resources to supporting students.

Among these, Huawei which, in the wake of the collaboration with the Polytechnic established with the Joint Lab, has set up scholarships for young researchers in the field of "Wireless Communications", giving young excellence the opportunity to carry out teaching and research activities in scope of 5G / 6G systems.

Edison Foundation in 2021 donated 20 thousand euros for scholarships, to finance 2 scholarships of 10 thousand euros each, dedicated to students of the master's degree course in energy engineering -energy engineering of the Politecnico di Milano. The scholarships are named after Eng. Guido Fossati, Alumnus of the Politecnico , former Director of HR and ICT of Edison.

Finally, a special mention to the Fondazione Poffe , which established the Andrea Poffe Fellowship for Young Talents in memory of Andrea Poffe, Alumnus in Mechanical Engineering who died prematurely in 2020 at the age of forty 'years. The scholarship was intended for a high school student or female student and will be active from the 2021/2022 academic year.

This exceptional result achieved in 2021 also came thanks to the support of the Alumni Community. We want to make 2022 like this too:
even with a small contribution you can help a needy and deserving student. Donate now

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Politecnico di Milano: scholarships to bridge the gender gap in STEM

"The issue of female employment, although it does not exhaust the debate on equal opportunities, unequivocally represents one of the central points of the question, a potential engine for structural change and revitalization of the country".

This is the opinion of Vice Rector Donatella Sciuto in the Corriere della Sera's interview, talking about equal opportunities and how these have been severely affected by the pandemic, which has brought out the structural weaknesses in terms of female employment, unequal family burdens and imbalances in life between men and women.

gender gap ragazze nelle STEM

Even if the data disseminated by Istat report describes a country where women are more educated than men (22.4% against 16 , 8%), the presence of women in technical-scientific degrees, although growing , it is still very low: only 16.2% of women acquire a title in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathemathics), against 37.3% of men.

"At the international level, the 2021 edition of the Global Gender Gap Report concludes that the time estimated as necessary to 'close' the gap between men and women in this area is 276.6 years".


“The moment of choosing the university path can be an important turning point, because this choice is fundamental to foster autonomy, freedom and awareness for young women” continues the pro-rector Sciuto.

Precisely for this reason, the Politecnico di Milano has created Girls @ Polimi , scholarships for future students enrolled in engineering courses with low percentage of women (Mechanics, Electronics and IT) , which make available to deserving candidates 8000 euros each, repeatable for the three years of the degree, in addition to free accommodation.

Girls @ Polimi is an initiative that is part of the strategic plan Pop - Equal Polytechnic Opportunities and aims to bring girls closer to the study of STEM - and specifically engineering - starting from high schools , to support them in a choice of value from the point of view of personal fulfillment but also far-sighted with respect to future professional prospects. If you want to support the scholarship with a donation, click here .

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