14 October 2020 – Mastercard has announced that its signature STEM education program, Girls4Tech™, reached its initial milestone goal of educating one million girls. Ahead of UNICEF’s International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, Mastercard has set a new goal for the Girls4Tech™ program to reach five million girls globally by 2025.
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 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™ program 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 program’s aim is to enable kids to discover a range of STEM careers, such as fraud detective, data scientist and software engineer. Starting as hands-on, in-person sessions run by over 4,600 Mastercard employee volunteers over six years, the program has since expanded into new topics such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, and enhanced access to its STEM curriculum through a digital learning experience, Girls4Tech Connect, which has been translated into eight languages.
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™ program 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. Mastercard believes girls need to have exposure to the variety of STEM careers that are out there and see role models in these rewarding jobs. The more they can see it, the more likely they can be it.”
Girls4Tech Highlights in Asia Pacific
To scale the program globally, Mastercard has created customized 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.
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™ Through the partnership, the program will reach 100,000 girls, ages 8-14, across 475 schools over the next 12 months, starting in September 2020.
- India: Between 2019-2020, 200+ Mastercard employee volunteers hosted 15 Girls4Tech™ events across its Pune, Vadodara and Gurugram offices, as well as two India-wide virtual sessions (due to COVID-19) reaching 600+ girls ages 8-12.
- China: Through a partnership with NFTE, in 2015, Mastercard created a customized Girls4Tech™ classroom curriculum for Be Better to deploy in 12 markets in mainland China. Between 2016–2019, Be Better reached more than 80,000 Chinese girls, ages 8-12.
- 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. The goal is to train 60,000 Indonesian girls across 228 schools, as part of the flagship Mastercard Academy 2.0 skilling initiative.
- Singapore: 21,900 girls reached through workshops and initiatives developed in partnership with schools and local non-profits for children/youth.
- Malaysia: Created an online Girls4Tech™ program in Malay for the government’s education platform, Digital Education Learning Initiative Malaysia (DELIMa). The goal is to reach 5,000 girls by May 2021.
- Australia: Mastercard employee volunteers from the Brisbane office have taken the Girls4Tech™ program 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 program 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 program 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 percent 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. 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.