Mastercard offers a signature STEM curriculum called Girls4Tech, which recently partnered with Discovery Education. Mastercard’s partnership with Discovery Education helps Mastercard achieve its goal of showing five million girls how their skills and interests can connect them to a STEM career by 2025. We recently had a chance to speak with Susan Warner, Founder of Girls4Tech, about a great initiative that Mastercard is doing in partnership with Discovery Education. We’re so happy to be sharing it here.
Can you please share why it’s important to involve girls in STEM?
In the next 10 years, 80% of the jobs will be STEM related, but we know that only 1 in 20 women pursue a career in STEM vs. 1 in 5 men. This gap is only getting bigger. And it’s a global problem. Role models and exposure to STEM opportunities can really make a difference in leveling the playing field. It’s also important for companies like Mastercard to support programs that will help educate and inspire the next generation of tech leaders.
We created Girls4Tech to inspire young girls (8 to 16) to assess their own skills and then see how they connect to STEM fields, connections that will help them become leaders of tomorrow. With our employees serving as role models and mentors, we developed a signature STEM curriculum based on global science and math standards that showcases our payments technology—algorithms, encryption, fraud detection, data analysis, digital convergence, and the power of our network. We’ve reached more than 2.5M girls in 56 countries and 22 languages, with the support of 6,000 employee mentors. The curriculum has been expanded to include coding, AI, biometrics, and Cybersecurity.
How and why is STEM important for students today? In what ways could STEM impact their lives tomorrow?
Students saw, first-hand, how technology impacted their lives in the classroom during the pandemic. Technological solutions evolved overnight to accommodate safe learning opportunities. We think it’s important to train the next generation of technologists to be the problem solvers for today and of the future. We also think an ‘always learning’ mindset is critical to stay on top of new and emerging technology, such as AI, behavioral biometrics and more. Our Girls4Tech participants will be the creators of tomorrow, embracing existing technologies and inventing new ones. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen digital convergence where every device is a payments device; blockchain and cryptocurrency have become common words. Imagine what the next generation is going to create. I, for one, can’t wait.
How does Girls4Tech inspire girls who may be new to this side of technology and cybersecurity?
Our goals are simple: start by asking the girls to tell us about their skills and interests; introduce different types of STEM careers to the girls; showcase that it takes all kinds of interests and skills to pursue a STEM career; and maybe this one is most important — bring our hearts and minds to work at Mastercard to make a difference in the lives of girls around the world. There’s a whole lot of fun in STEM and we want girls to know that. Especially payments technology.
How does Mastercard approach the important topic of equity in education?
Gender balance is a challenge for every business throughout the world. Women are not a minority – we represent half the human race. And yet we continue to be underrepresented, especially in STEM fields. At Mastercard, we believe achieving gender balance is the decent thing to do, and because 85% of day to day buying decisions are made by women, they are vital to our business. We also know that if there’s 50/50 representation, especially in tech companies, we will automatically create better products, services and better technology. We believe girls need to learn about the variety of STEM careers. The more they can see it, the more likely they can be it.
How can students and educators get involved? What’s one resource you’d recommend?
Here’s what we know: One of the most powerful tools to create gender equality is education. Parents, families, and teachers, who are part of the frontline right now, are so essential STEM education in girls. We also know that role models and exposure to STEM opportunities can really make a difference in leveling the playing field. One resource I’d recommend is Girls4Tech.com, the site is designed for teachers, parents, and families to encourage girls to learn more about payments technology with fun subjects like cryptology, algorithms, AI for social good, and more. And it’s currently available in 8 languages.
Learn more about Girls4Tech
The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.