Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are two of the hottest technology fields today, with job opportunities continuing to grow across both. However, worldwide, women make up less than 15% of the professionals in these high-tech jobs, and only one in 20 girls opts for a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-based career.
To help narrow the gender gap, Mastercard has been cultivating young technology enthusiasts as part of its signature education
platform,Girls4Tech. Currently in its fifth year, this hands-on,
inquiry-based STEM programme has reached more than 400,000 girls (ages 8-12) in 25 countries, more than doubling its established 2017 goal.
Mastercard is marking the 5th anniversary of the programme and the company is building on a successful track record of impact with an even more ambitious commitment to reach one million girls by 2025.
Mastercard created Girls4Tech in April 2014 to inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers through a fun, engaging curriculum built around global science and math standards. The programme incorporates Mastercard’s deep expertise in payments technology and innovation, and includes topics such as encryption, fraud detection, data analysis and digital convergence.
“Today we celebrate the 400,000 girls who gained new STEM skills through the Girls4Tech program and learned that a future in technology can and should include them,” says Susan Warner, senior vice president of Global Volunteerism at Mastercard.
“We hope to have sparked many future careers in STEM fields, because gender parity in tech will ultimately make all companies – and our society at large – better and stronger.”
As technology skills continue to evolve, the Girls4Tech programme is launching a new curriculum to give girls deeper exposure to the growing fields of cybersecurity and AI.
Furthermore, to continue the engagement with girls who have already participated in the program, Mastercard is launching Girls4Tech 2.0. Designed for older students, ages 13-16, the new programme aims to keep girls excited about STEM throughout the critical high school years and also emphasizes important 21st century skills – such as collaboration, creativity and communication – as they work in teams to apply their technical knowledge to solve real-world challenges.
Girls4Tech works with a network of global partners to increase the reach and impact of its programme.
In the US, Mastercard and Scholastic will continue their partnership into 2020, building upon a successful first year. The
custom, co-branded program will expand the Girls4Tech curriculum with new themes in privacy, AI and algorithms.
In partnership with American Airlines, Mastercard will host
its first _Girls4Tech Takes Flight_ brainathon. The two-day event will challenge 50 girls to innovate solutions to humanitarian challenges outlined by the United Nations on gender equality; smart cities and sustainability; health and wellbeing; and quality education.
In Ireland, in partnership with the golf organisation R&A,
Mastercard recently launched an evergreen golf-themed version of the programme, where girls gain exposure to STEM through a deeper dive into the business and science of golf.
In many African countries, neither the educational curriculum nor the community encourages girls interested in STEM subjects.This lack of persistence in subjects in which the student is truly interested most often results from a lack of positive, strong female role models teaching STEM subjects or working in STEM fields.
In Kenya, Girls4Tech programme has been introduced at Kimathi Primary School. It is less than 10 kilometers from the Nairobi Central Business District with approximately 80% of the students coming from slum areas such as Kiambiu and Kariobangi which are within walking distance of the school.
The 4-month programme aims to help bridge the skills gap by increasing the digital literacy of primary school aged girls and encouraging them to pursue careers in STEM fields.
The hands-on, inquiry-based training is designed to teach 10- to 13-year-old girls digital literacy skills while boosting problem solving abilities and curiosity.