In light of International Women’s Day which was celebrated on the 8th of March 2020, MasterCard introduced the Girls4Tech programme at Phoenix College in Johannesburg to inspire and prepare 110 girls aged between 9 and 11 for careers in science and technology. Since its launch in April 2014 in the United States, Girls4Tech has reached more than 500,000 girls in 27 countries.
“Through our Girls4Tech programme, we are committed to developing a strong pipeline of talent by encouraging girls to embrace the subjects that will prepare them for the workforce of the future, while helping to reduce the shortage of STEM skills that are needed to boost South Africa’s economy,” said Suzanne Morel, Country Manager at Mastercard South Africa.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills are still the most in-demand jobs in the South African job market yet reports still show that only 13% of graduates in STEM fields are women. “STEM skills are not only critical in giving women a leg up in the job market, but they can also help to boost their earning potential. This is important if we are to close the gender pay gap. A lot of girls believe that they are not cut out for technology careers and need more confidence. They need to have good role models so they can see that they can do it too, “says Morel.
On the day of the launch, Mastercard employees mentored the young girls and guided them through practical and fun exercises. They showed the girls that being friendly, enthusiastic, mathematical, artistic, scientific, logical and even creative are all skills that connect to a STEM career. Girls4Tech includes Mastercard’s expertise in payments technology and innovation and includes topics such as algorithms, digital convergence and cryptology.
The female hands-on inquiry-based STEM programme was also designed to address women’s contribution to STEM Industry, where they would contribute to the development of products and services of the future. According to Nielsen, women wield the buying power in South Africa, with 60% of the primary purchaser within South African households, while 71% are responsible for grocery shopping.
“How can we possibly create products for everyone if we don’t have a representation of women in the decision-making, engineering and innovation processes? It is critical that women have a seat at the table, so that we can design solutions that better meet their needs. By creating a world with women in mind, and women involved, we can unlock limitless possibilities for us all,” concludes Morel.