Mastercard recently hosted its second Girls4Tech Marathon in South Africa and Kenya as part of its initiative to embrace equity. The marathon aimed to inspire and prepare girls aged 7-12 to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
Mastercard’s Girls4Tech education program, which debuted in 2014, features an interactive STEM curriculum based on global science and math standards. It also incorporates Mastercard’s technological and innovative expertise, allowing students to explore a variety of STEM careers such as fraud detection, data science, and software engineering.
“The Girls4Tech Initiative is designed to help address the gender gap in STEM fields by providing hands-on, inquiry-based activities that help girls develop an interest in STEM subjects. Stereotypes about women’s abilities start early – often in early education – and this can undermine girls’ confidence in their mathematical and technical skills. At Mastercard we remain committed to the advancement of girls in technology as we continue our journey to embrace equity through digital education,” says, Megan Clunnie, Technology Divisional lead for Sub Saharan Africa, at Mastercard.
The program kicked off with hands-on, in-person sessions and workshops led by volunteers from the company’s workforce. Still, it has since grown to incorporate topics such as artificial intelligence and cyber security. It is now available in eight languages through online sessions and a digital learning experience, including workshops, hackathons, and mentorship programs.
This year’s workshop attracted 176 girls from South Africa and Kenya. The workshops in South Africa were completely interactive, with Mastercard employee volunteers taking the lead in creating a fun learning environment. The workshops were held in Kenya as a hybrid session.
The inquiry-based STEM program has reached over 3.5 million girls aged 8 to 16 in 60 countries, with Mastercard committing to reach 5 million girls globally by 2025.
Mastercard will continue to invest in the future of the girlchild through the Girls4Tech Initiative, especially given the nearly exponential growth in tech-related jobs over the last three years. That is why Girls4Tech will continue to do everything in its power to develop the female tech workforce of the future.
“As educators of girls between the age of 7-12 years, we aim to continue showing girls that they can forge a career path in STEM fields and are just as capable as the boys at being successful in those careers. Girls4Tech is in line with our efforts to prioritize STEM subjects as part of our curriculum and we are excited to participate in this initiative,” said Daniel Muthee, Principal at Woodcreek School in Nairobi, Kenya.
Although there are still gender parities that exist in technology-related fields and women in Sub-Saharan Africa only make up less than 31 percent of science researchers. Mastercard’s Girls4Tech program is challenging the status quo and forms part of a broader global commitment towards embracing equality and exposing young girls to future career prospects in STEM.
“We are honored to have been selected by Mastercard, to have our learners participate in the Girls4Tech workshops, which provided them with an opportunity to expand their knowledge base by learning about all things STEM-related. Our legacy of being the oldest school in Johannesburg drives the importance of investing in and inspiring our girls to dream big, and initiatives such as Girls4Tech facilitate this. With this program, our girls get exposed to various career opportunities outside of the traditional ones, that they are familiar with,” said Natalie Bompas, Teacher at Johannesburg Girls Preparatory School, South Africa.