60 junior high school girls in Lagos participate in a STEM curriculum that aims to empower the next generation of problem-solvers
In celebration of International Women’s Day, Mastercard has launched the rollout of its first 2020 Girls4Tech programme in Nigeria, engaging a total of 60 girls between the ages of nine and 12, currently attending the Holy Child College in Lagos.
The hands-on, inquiry-based Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, program incorporates Mastercard’s deep expertise in payments technology and innovation. Mastercard employees serve as mentors and role models and guide participants through practical and fun exercises covering topics such as encryption, fraud detection, data analysis, digital convergence, cybersecurity, and AI. The program also emphasizes important skills such as collaboration, creativity, and communication to enable young girls to apply their technical knowledge to solve real-world challenges.
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Ifeoma Dozie, Director, Marketing and Communications, Sub-Saharan Africa at Mastercard, says, “Through our Girls4Tech programme, we’re extending our commitment to Nigeria’s next generation of women leaders and developing a talented pipeline of STEM professionals to support the country’s future economy, by encouraging girls to embrace the subjects that will prepare them for the workforce of tomorrow.”
Inspiring young girls to build the skills they need in STEM is important, as it ensures that more women have a voice in the development of the products and services of the future. According to an IPSOS survey, 89% of African women are the decision-makers or co-decision-makers for household purchases, yet UNESCO says the share of women working in research and development (R&D) is just 32% in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“It is critical to have women represented in the decision-making, engineering, and innovation processes so that we can design solutions that better meet their needs. By taking active steps such as the Girls4Tech programmes, we are helping to prepare young women for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, ultimately increasing their opportunities for prosperity, employability and a voice in the conversations that are driving the digital economy.
Connecting people to possibilities is fundamental to what we do at Mastercard. It’s what Priceless is all about –unlocking the potential in every person across all parts of their lives? By creating a world with women in mind, and women involved, we can unlock limitless possibilities for us all,” says Ifeoma.
Ranked 128th out of 153 countries in the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, women currently make up only 22% of Nigeria’s total number of engineering and technology university graduates. The growing demand for STEM graduates in Nigeria’s workforce means increased opportunities for women in the future.
Since its launch in April 2014 in the United States, Girls4Tech has reached more than 500,000 girls in 28 countries, including over 100 girls in Nigeria. Mastercard has further committed to reaching 1 million girls globally by 2025. Additional programmes will be rolled out to schools in Lagos later this year.