Mastercard has announced that its signature STEM education programme- Girls4Tech™- has reached its initial milestone goal of educating one million girls.
Ahead of UNICEF's International Day of the Girl Child on 11 October, Mastercard has set a new goal for the Girls4Tech™ programme to reach five million girls globally by 2025, according to a press statement.
"Even before the Covid-19 crisis struck, disproportionately hindering women and girls in a number of ways, there was a pressing need to scale up investments in girls' education to address persistent gender gaps in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)."
"While these fields are increasingly important for the development of advanced economies, women still hold less than one-third of research positions globally. In East Asia and the Pacific, the percentage of researchers that are female falls to only 23.9 percent while it's even lower in South and West Asia at 18.5 percent," the statement reads.
The low rate of women's representation in the research community reflects the reality of gender inequality within education as well as the barriers that girls and women face when pursuing STEM-related studies and careers.
To help tackle this problem, in 2014, Mastercard launched its Girls4Tech™ programme to offer activities and curriculum built on global science and math standards, incorporating the payments technology company's deep expertise in technology and innovation.
The programme's aim is to enable kids to discover a range of STEM careers. Starting as hands-on, in-person sessions run by over 4,600 Mastercard employee volunteers over six years, the programme has since expanded into new topics such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
Julienne Loh, executive vice president, Enterprise Partnerships, Asia Pacific, Mastercard said, "When there's equal gender representation in the workforce, companies automatically build better products, services and create better technology. The big stumbling block to achieving this balance. There's a growing gender gap in STEM careers. Bringing diverse partners together to deliver the Girls4Tech™ programme is one way that Mastercard is tackling this problem head on, all over the world, to inspire more girls to pursue STEM careers and reduce the gender gap in these fields."
Girls4Tech Highlights in Asia Pacific
To scale the programme globally, Mastercard has created customised Girls4Tech™ curricula with partners including Be Better China, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), American India Foundation (AIF), The R&A and YCAB in Indonesia, Arus in Malaysia, Scholastic, Major League Baseball and more, according to the statement.
In India: supported by the Mastercard Impact Fund, Mastercard and the American India Foundation (AIF) will train 1,200 teachers in 350 villages and five cities on the Girls4Tech™ curriculum.
In China: through a partnership with NFTE, in 2015, Mastercard created a customised Girls4Tech™ classroom curriculum for Be Better to deploy in 12 markets in mainland China.
In Indonesia: YCAB Foundation, Ministry of ICT and the Ministry of Education partnered through the Mastercard Impact Fund to launch an online gamified version of Girls4Tech™ in September 2020.
In Singapore: some 21,900 girls reached through workshops and initiatives developed in partnership with schools and local nonprofits for children/youth.
In Malaysia: it created an online Girls4Tech™ programme in Malay for the government's education platform, Digital Education Learning Initiative Malaysia (DELIMa).
And in Australia: Mastercard employee volunteers from the Brisbane office have taken the Girls4Tech™ programme on the road to 11 schools between 2017-2020, reaching 1,028 girls.
Susan Warner, Vice President of Community Engagement and Founder of Mastercard's Girls4Tech programme, said, "Mastercard's goal is to build foundational STEM knowledge and develop critical 21st century skills girls need for their studies and career success. This programme sparks their curiosity in STEM and teaches them real-world applications of those skills."
Mastercard Offers Free Online STEM Lessons
By the end of March 2020, UNESCO estimated that more than 89% of the world's student population was out of school or university due to the Covid-19 pandemic and related school closures, including nearly 743 million girls, it reads.
To support parents, caregivers, teachers and children that had to suddenly adjust to learning from home, Mastercard extended free access to its Girls4Tech™ curriculum, through a suite of online, creative educational resources, designed to engage and inspire kids ages 8-12.
"Through the website Girls4Tech Connect, teachers and parents can download lessons to help students learn about STEM topics including encryption, fraud detection, data analysis and digital convergence, from the comfort of their homes or anywhere around the world."
"Lessons are currently available in English, Chinese, Hindi, Malay, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Polish," adds the press statement.