New Delhi: Mastercard announced the expansion of its signature Girls4Tech, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education programme in India. Supported by the Mastercard Impact Fund, and in partnership with the American India Foundation (AIF), the expansion of the programme aims to reach an additional one lakh female students across the country by 2024 to encourage them to take up STEM education. This includes 14,400 students in Delhi as well as onboard 40 additional government schools where STEM courses will be offered to girls aged 8 to 14.
In 2020-21, the programme reached over 112,482 girls in urban and rural locations across six states in India, including 10,000 across Delhi. Even as science and technology continue to be the next frontiers of growth for nations and organisations, a significant gender gap remains in these fields. According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20, while women comprise over 43 per cent of STEM graduates in India, only 14 per cent go on to pursue scientific research in universities and institutions. The situation becomes more concerning considering the skills gap in the workforce and the increasing necessity for businesses to attract, hire, and nurture a diverse workforce.
To address the challenge and pique girls’ interest in science and technology fields, Mastercard partnered with the American India Foundation (AIF) to encourage girls to take up STEM education and prepare for jobs of the future, with an aim to narrow the gender gap.
Mathew Joseph, Country Director, American India Foundation said, “The under-representation and disparity of women in STEM are results of deep-rooted social biases, and expectations, influencing the quality of education they receive and the subjects they study. The lack of female leaders and role models in STEM is also a barrier and one of the key drivers behind the gender gap in labour market success. American India Foundation is committed to intervening measures that focus on attracting young girls to STEM subjects, and our partnership with Mastercard on Girls4Tech is one such step’’.
Subhashini Chandran, Vice President of Social Impact, Asia Pacific, Mastercard Centre for Inclusive Growth, said, “Even though more women are needed in the workforce, they continue to face several challenges, particularly in India’s semi-urban and rural areas. One is the prevailing perception that the tech industry is dominated by men. As a result, girls do not receive adequate encouragement to pursue STEM disciplines at school or university. Through the Girls4Tech programme, which is based on global science and math standards and curated by engineers and technologists, Mastercard aims to support the Government’s vision to create more opportunities for women in the workforce by inspiring young girls and women to pursue STEM education which will help to prepare them for jobs of the future.”
Launched in 2014, Girls4Tech™ is an award-winning education programme aimed at creating future problem solvers, incorporating Mastercard’s deep expertise in technology and innovation. The programme aims to enable girls to discover a range of STEM careers, such as fraud detective, data scientist and software engineer.
In the spirit of Mastercard’s ethos of “Doing Well by Doing Good”, since 2015, more than 700 Mastercard employee volunteers hosted multiple Girls4Tech events across Pune, Vadodara, Mumbai and Gurugram and held India-wide virtual sessions reaching over 110,000 students aged 8-16. Starting as hands-on, in-person sessions run by employee volunteers, the programme has since reached more students by extending access to its STEM curriculum through the programme’s online resources.
Through the website Girls4Tech Connect, teachers and parents can download lessons to help students learn about STEM topics including encryption, fraud detection, data analysis and digital convergence, from home or anywhere in the world. The curriculum, which includes topics such as AI and cybersecurity, is also available in Hindi, English, Chinese, Malay, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Polish.