Mastercard recently hosted its second Girls4Tech Marathon in South Africa and Kenya to inspire and prepare girls aged 7-12 to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The Girls4Tech program is an interactive STEM curriculum-based on global science and Math standards, incorporating MasterCard’s expertise in technology and innovation.
It helps students discover a range of STEM careers, such as fraud detection, data science, and software engineering.
The program began as hands-on, in-person sessions and workshops run by volunteers from the company’s workforce but has since expanded to include online sessions and a digital learning experience in eight languages, with various activities such as workshops, hackathons, and mentorship programs.
This year, 176 girls from South Africa and Kenya participated in the workshops.
Mastercard’s 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.
To date, the inquiry-based STEM program has reached over 3.5 million girls between the ages of 8 and 16 in 60 countries, and Mastercard has further committed to reaching 5 million girls globally by 2025.
Technology Divisional lead for Sub-Saharan Africa at Mastercard, Megan Clunnie said that stereotypes about women’s abilities start early, often in early education, and can undermine girls’ confidence in their mathematical and technical skills.
She said Mastercard remains committed to the advancement of girls in technology as they continue their journey to embracing equity through digital education.
Through the Girls4Tech Initiative, MasterCard will continue to invest in the future of the girlchild, especially with the almost exponential growth in tech-based jobs over the past three years.
“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, the Principal at Woodcreek School in Nairobi, Kenya.
Mastercard’s Girls4Tech program challenges the status quo and forms part of a broader global commitment towards embracing equality and exposing young girls to future career prospects in STEM, especially as women in Sub-Saharan Africa make up less than 31 per cent of science researchers.