The Women in STEM, Medicine and Law Scholarship, created by student Ally Orr, will be awarded to one woman every year.
Ally Orr, aged 22, is a marketing student at Boise State University in Idaho. When a professor told her women did not belong in fields like engineering, medicine, and law, she decided to take matters into her own hands. The young student began raising funds for a scholarship dedicated specifically to women studying those subjects. Since she first began fundraising, Orr has successfully raised over $70,000, which was just enough to launch the Women in STEM, Medicine and Law Scholarship at Boise State University. Starting this fall, the scholarship funds will be awarded to one woman every single year, Good Morning America reports.
"I never want a girl to look online and say, 'Oh look, a professor who teaches in higher education says I should stay out of STEM, medicine and law,'" Orr said in an interview with the news outlet. "They should see the scholarship and see that 500-plus donors said, 'No, I will fund you if you want to go into these areas of study.'" According to the college student, she was inspired to start fundraising for the scholarship after listening to a speech delivered by Scott Yenor, a professor of political philosophy at Boise State University, during the annual National Conservatism Conference in November.
He stated in his speech, "Our feminist culture leads us to want less male achievement. Their excellence, after all, creates inequities. That’s a shame. That denial of reality has to stop. Every effort must be made not to recruit women into engineering, but rather to recruit and demand more of men to become engineers. Ditto for [medical] school and the law and every trade. Efforts should be redoubled to encourage more men to enter the medical field, space exploration, mining endeavors, and every other high-end and even low-end profession." The speech was recorded and posted online, where it quickly went viral.
Orr condemned the professor's statements. While scrolling online, she saw that one social media user called for a scholarship for women to be created in Yenor's name. She decided she would be the one to do so. "I thought with the little that I can control about the situation, at least I can help the people that he's hurting, and those are the women at Boise State," she said. "This is something that makes me so mad and I can't just wait for someone else to do something." She began by creating a GoFundMe in early December to raise money for the scholarship, and sent over 600 emails to professors, faculty, and staff sharing the GoFundMe link and asking them to support the fundraiser.
In just hours, people had donated thousands of dollars in support of the fundraiser. Notably, several women reached out to Orr to share their stories. She stated, "There have been so many messages that have been sent to me by women in their 30s and 40s and even their 20s that said, 'I was the only woman in my computer science class or my science class,' and then saying just how hard it is to be lonely in those areas and not to receive as much support and to be thought of as less than. So I hope this scholarship shows women that there is support and you're needed."
Mike Sharp, a spokesperson at Boise State University, acknowledging Orr's efforts, affirmed, "Boise State supports student scholarships and is grateful for Ally’s efforts to coordinate and promote women in STEM through the creation of the newly established scholarship. The university is thrilled with the outpouring of support from our community, including Ally, and the financial commitment of our donors who have given to such an important and critical effort." The Women in STEM, Medicine, and Law Scholarship is endowed, which means it will be awarded in perpetuity each academic year based on how much it continues to grow. This year, the scholarship award will be around $2,000. "Everyone needs to have the same opportunities," Orr asserted. "We need all ideas and all opportunities and all experiences in every field... I think the most hurtful thing that [Yoner] said is to recruit more men into these areas of study and not women. This scholarship says, 'No, no, no. We have money for you. You choose to be here and also, come join us. We want you here.'"