SALT LAKE CITY — The ACCESS Program for Women in Science and Mathematics at the University of Utah has received a $240,000 grant from Chevron, university officials announced Wednesday.

Since its creation in 1991 as a way to address gender inequality in mathematics and science, the ACCESS Program has helped more than 500 women, said Collin Barrett, public relations specialist for the University of Utah College of Science. The program awards scholarships to incoming female freshman students to provide a head start in science education.

Of the participants who have graduated through the program, 76 percent earned a degree in science or a science-related field and 15 percent went on to receive advanced degrees in a science-related field.

“As members of the higher education community, our primary responsibility is to ensure that talented young women be given every opportunity to achieve success in the sciences,” Pierre Sokolsky, dean of the College of Science, said in a prepared statement. “Here at the University of Utah, the ACCESS program provides a demonstrably successful path for many such women.”

Lt. Gov. Greg Bell applauded Chevron for helping women achieve their educational dreams.

“Gov. Gary Herbert and I are dedicated to achieving the goal of seeing 66 percent of Utahns with a higher education degree, or certification, by the year 2020,” Bell said in a prepared statement. “Part of meeting this challenge is ensuring that undeserved residents have a pathway to prosperity, which benefits all of us."