Mastercard announced the launch of its signature Girls4Tech programme in Nairobi, Kenya at the Makena School in collaboration with Youth for Technology (YFT). Girls4Tech aims to drive interest and awareness for the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) studies and careers amongst primary school girls aged between 10 and 12.
Girls4Tech hopes to inspire young girls to build the skills they need in STEM to become innovators and leaders of tomorrow. The programme also aims to ensure that women have a voice in the development of the products and services of the future, including Mastercard’s payments solutions.
The hands-on, inquiry-based programme connects Mastercard’s payment technology business to STEM principles and shows students that it takes all kinds of interests and skills to pursue a STEM career. Mastercard has set a goal to reach 200,000 girls aged 10-13 around the world with its Girls4Tech program by 2020.
Mastercard and YTF have a shared aim of supporting the public sector’s goals of empowering more women and sparking a culture of entrepreneurship, especially in Kenya. It is here where the spirit of collaboration can be seen – where girls can empower those in their community by sharing the knowledge they have gained by attending the YTF training sessions.
“Research from the World Economic Forum has shown that while many traditional occupations may be disrupted by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is expected to create a range of new jobs in fields such as STEM, data analysis and computer science,” says Chris Bwakira, Vice President and Area Business Head for East Africa at Mastercard. “This means far more opportunities for Kenyans to develop home-grown solutions to the countries and the continents problems.”
“African university graduates with a STEM degree represent only two percent of the continent’s total university-age population but are increasingly needed across a wide variety of industries. As in more advanced economies, special attention should also be given to encouraging female STEM talent, as only 17 percent of students pursuing degrees in science and technology subjects in Kenya are women,” adds Bwakira.
With three stations based on algorithms, digital convergence and cryptology, the Kenyan workshop brings to life the real-world applications of classroom maths and science lessons. Mastercard employees serve as mentors and role models, and guide participants through the exercises.
“The Girls4Tech curriculum gives concrete examples of how we apply science and maths in a practical way in our business,” says Bwakira. “By providing real life and hands-on activities for each concept, the programme shows that being friendly, enthusiastic, mathematical, artistic, scientific, logical and even creative are all skills that connect to a STEM career.”
Mastercard has hosted Girls4Tech workshops across more than 10 countries over the past two months. Assisting girls to apply their own special skills, as well as math and science concepts they’re learning in school to solve real-life challenges. The data scientists and cybersecurity detectives of tomorrow, continue to explore the world of big-data analytics and algorithms, encryption, cryptology, and biometrics to create and innovate technologies that are safe, simple and smart. Through the past couple of months alone, Mastercard has reached over 1,400 students. This adds to the more than 30,000 girls across 17 countries who have participated in the program over the past three years.