Mastercard recently hosted its first digital Girls4Tech Connect Marathon in Sub-Saharan Africa, in its quest to inspire and prepare girls to pursue careers in Science and Technology. More than 500 girls aged 7-12 participated in the virtual tech marathon.
Launched in 2014, Mastercard’s signature Girls4Tech education program is centered on a unique, interactive Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum that aims to impact five million girls globally by 2025.
Based on global science and math standards, the program incorporates Mastercard’s deep expertise in technology and innovation, enabling students to discover a range of STEM careers, such as fraud detective, data scientist and software engineer.
Starting as a hands-on, in-person session run by employee volunteers, the programme has expanded to cover topics such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, with enhanced access to its STEM curriculum through digital sessions and even a digital learning experience on its website, Girls4Tech – as the COVID-19 pandemic led to a global surge in online learning.
As part of the virtual marathon, Mastercard volunteers from across the continent hosted a series of virtual Girls4Tech sessions at schools in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya to help equip girls with the foundational STEM knowledge and skills they need for their studies and career success.
Kamini Redhi, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Mastercard, Sub-Saharan Africa said that there is a big need for more women to take up STEM skills.
“Global stats show that 80 percent of jobs created in the next decade will require some combination of STEM skills. Yet only 30 percent of the science and technology workforce is currently comprised of women,” said Redhi.
She said that the program is tailored towards solving the problem.
“At Mastercard, we are tackling this challenge head on. Through Girls4Tech, our goal is to build foundational STEM knowledge and develop the critical skills that girls need for their studies and career success. By providing real life and hands-on activities for each concept, Mastercard volunteers show young girls that being friendly, enthusiastic, mathematical, artistic, scientific, logical, and even creative are all skills that connect to a STEM career.”
The primary schools selected for this Girls4Tech marathon have prioritized STEM subjects as part of their curriculum and are excited to participate in the initiative.
Bongani Mgoqi, Principal at Tshedimosho Mahlaleng Primary School in Soweto, South Africa said that most girls believe that STEM careers are not meant for them, and thanked Mastercard for working to change the notion.
“We’ve noted that young girls still believe that careers in STEM are not meant for them. We appreciate the role that companies such as Mastercard are playing in giving girls from all walks of life an opportunity to change this narrative by exposing them to the diverse career opportunities available to them in STEM,” said Mgoqi.
“Mastercard’s Girls4Tech programme is a great initiative,” agreed Hannah Umoh, Program Manager at Government Primary school in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria. “We want our girls to have confidence in their ability to succeed in STEM related careers and to recognize that they can achieve anything. Our girls were excited to participate in the programme, and we believe this sort of exposure and encouragement is exactly what we need to build the future female leaders of tomorrow.” Miss Umoh added.
Meanwhile, Daniel Muthee, the principal at Woodcreek School in Nairobi, Kenya says the program exposes girls to the digital future.
“Our girls are very excited to be taking part in this programme and to be learning new things about STEM related careers. Girls4Tech is an important initiative to exposing our girls to the digital future,” Muthee offered.
The award-winning Girls4Tech programme has already reached more than 2 million girls across 49 countries including more than 2500 in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana.