The Mastercard Girls4Tech initiative has committed to bring STEM education opportunities to 1 Million girls globally by 2025. The initiative was launched in 2014 and has so far been able to impact 400,000 girls (ages 8-12) in 25 countries, more than doubling its established 2017 goal.
Currently, Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are two of the hottest technology fields today, with job opportunities continuing to grow across both. However, worldwide, women make up less than 15 percent of the professionals in these high-tech jobs, and only one in 20 girls opts for a STEM-based career.
In Kenya, Girls4Tech programme has been introduced at Kimathi Primary School. It is less than 10 kilometers from the Nairobi Central Business District with approximately 80% of the students coming from slum areas such as Kiambiu and Kariobangi which are within walking distance of the school.
The 4-month program aims to help bridge the skills gap by increasing the digital literacy of primary school aged girls and encouraging them to pursue careers in STEM fields. The hands-on, inquiry-based training is designed to teach 10- to 13-year-old girls digital literacy skills while boosting problem solving abilities and curiosity.
The Girls4Tech program has launched a new curriculum to give girls deeper exposure to the growing fields of cybersecurity and AI. Furthermore, to continue the engagement with girls who have already participated in the program, Mastercard is launching Girls4Tech 2.0. Designed for older students, ages 13-16, the new program aims to keep girls excited about STEM throughout the critical high school years and also emphasizes important 21st century skills – such as collaboration, creativity and communication – as they work in teams to apply their technical knowledge to solve real-world challenges.
The program also works with a network of global partners to oncrease reach and impact of the program. In the US, Mastercard and Scholastic will continue their partnership into 2020, building upon a successful first year. The custom, co-branded program will expand the Girls4Tech curriculum with new themes in privacy, AI and algorithms. In partnership with American Airlines, Mastercard will host its first Girls4Tech Takes Flight brainathon. The two-day event will challenge 50 girls to innovate solutions to humanitarian challenges outlined by the United Nations on gender equality; smart cities and sustainability; health and wellbeing; and quality education. In Ireland, in partnership with the golf organization R&A, Mastercard recently launched an evergreen golf-themed version of the program, where girls gain exposure to STEM through a deeper dive into the business and science of golf.