Progress Creates Mary Székely Scholarship for Women in STEM

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Photo by Rochelle Nicole on Unsplash

A Progress cofounder and very first employee, Mary Székely was a trailblazing software engineer. Now, in her memory, Progress wants to help a new generation of women in technology.

For more than 30 years, Mary Székely led by example at Progress Software. A cofounder of the company and its first employee, she was a pioneering software engineer who left a legacy of hard work, innovation and mentorship.

What better way to honor her legacy than giving the next generation of women in STEM a leg up?

Today, Progress launched the Progress Software Mary Székely Scholarship for Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The four-year, renewable scholarship will provide a maximum of $10,000 per year for tuition, fees, and educational expenses while pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer information systems, software engineering, IT and/or computer science.

The scholarship will be awarded annually. Applications for 2020 are due March 20. For more information on the scholarship, eligibility, and the application process, click here.

Mary led development efforts at Progress for its core technology platform from 1982-2013. At the age of 78, she died in June 2019.

“From my first day at Progress, I was lucky enough to work directly with Mary. I immediately admired her achievements as one of the founders of Progress, writing a major portion of OpenEdge,” said Shelley Chase, a software fellow with Progress for more than 20 years. “Mary was brilliant, kind, empathetic and generous. Over the years, I watched Mary welcome every task, every question and every customer.”

Mary’s approach helped make Progress what it is today. Progress now has offices on six continents and customers around the globe, including 1,700 independent software vendors, 100,000 enterprise customers, and 2 million developers.

“(Mary) was such an inspiration for women in technology. I think in today’s day and age, this is becoming a big buzzword—women in tech—but when you think about it, in the ’80s, that was the early era of software,” said Progress President and CEO Yogesh Gupta, who also serves on the MassTLC Board of Trustees.

Mary’s father was a math teacher and head of a math department, and Mary started out as a teacher herself. Her love of math and science helped make her a trailblazer for women in tech at a time when women pursuing careers in the STEM fields was rare. She believed deeply in being methodical and working through each obstacle, each piece of code while not letting “perfect” be the enemy of good.

“My mother began working as a software engineer in the 1970s, when there were very few women in the field. She felt that the best way to get ahead as a woman was through hard work, thorough study and dedication,” said Mary’s daughter Cathryn Székely, who was inspired by her mother to become a software engineer herself. “She proved that if you focused on becoming irrefutably good at what you do, and on making your customer successful, everything else would fall into place. She would have been grateful to know that Progress, the company she loved and dedicated her career to, is honoring her and helping advance women’s careers in this way.”