To celebrate International Women’s Day, Mastercard has rolled out its first digital South African Girls4Tech Connect programme at Rose-Act Saturday School in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg to inspire and prepare girls aged between seven and 12 for careers in science and technology.
Launched in 2014, Girls4Tech offers activities and a curriculum built on global science and math standards. It incorporates Mastercard’s deep expertise in technology and innovation, enabling students to discover a range of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers such as fraud detective, data scientist and software engineer.
Starting as a hands-on, in-person session run by employee volunteers, the programme has expanded to cover topics such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, with enhanced access to its STEM curriculum through a digital learning experience – Girls4Tech Connect – as the COVID-19 pandemic led to a global surge in online learning.
“STEM skills are still the most in-demand jobs in the South African job market, yet only 13% of graduates in STEM fields are women. At Mastercard, we are committed to tackling this challenge head-on to see women succeed and thrive in domains where they have historically been overlooked. Through Girls4Tech Connect, we want to develop 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,” says Suzanne Morel, Country Manager for Mastercard, South Africa.
By providing real life and hands-on activities for each concept, Mastercard volunteers show young girls that being friendly, enthusiastic, mathematical, artistic, scientific, logical, and even creative are all skills that connect to a STEM career.
“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.
Rose-Act Saturday School offers extra classes on Saturdays to students who are enrolled at local schools in and around Alexandra Township during the week. The Saturday School is co-ordinated by the charity, Rays of Hope.
“STEM skills are so important in today’s digital world. We are excited to partner with Mastercard to enable our learners to explore, create, and learn in a fun and immersive online environment like Girls4Tech,” says Bafana Mohale from Rose-Act Saturday School.
The award-winning Girls4Tech programme has already reached more than 1 million girls in 41 countries including more than 1000 in South Africa. Mastercard has committed to reaching 5 million girls globally by 2025.