MasterCard Inspires Indian Girls to STEM Studies

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – While the literacy rate among girls is getting better gradually in India, the gender gap still continues. When it comes to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, girls are significantly underrepresented in most parts of the country. Various factors are responsible for this inequality, such as the social distinction between men and women, social pressures of getting married early, lack of confidence and expectations regarding the impact of children on a woman's academic career. Plus, some parents do not want to spend money on their daughter’s education.

The roots of this problem in India lie in the different gender experiences of boys and girls. As young girls and women, females are socialised to seek help and be help givers rather than to be self-reliant or to function autonomously or competitively, as are boys. Women receive a number of signals from a very early age that discourage them from entering STEM fields.

To drive interest and encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers for middle school girls, MasterCard has launched its signature education programme, Girls4Tech, in India this April. India has been chosen as the first country in Asia-Pacific for this initiative. Girls4Tech kicked off with a workshop at the MasterCard Centre of Advance Analytics with girls from the Air Force School in Gurgaon, where MasterCard employees served as mentors, and guide participants through the various exercises in the workshop. Other workshops are planned for Mumbai, Pune and other Indian cities later this year and next.

This hands-on, inquiry-based workshop is centred on global science and math standards and was created in conjunction with MasterCard’s top engineers and technologists. The program also showcases the connection between payments technologies and STEM principles. The workshop sessions helps bring to life the relevance of classroom learning in an engaging manner, as many children go through science or math education in the classroom, and find it hard to connect it to everyday life. This initiative hopes to transform this mind-set by bringing innovation to their doorsteps, showing the impact of STEM in their everyday lives. It will be a challenge to engage young women, who may not consider career options in STEM.

India offers a global hotbed of technology talent and MasterCard’s goal is to inspire these young people to build their skills in STEM to become the problem solvers of tomorrow. Globally, the programme was started by the American multinational financial services corporation in the States last April 2014. After India, MasterCard plans to take the programme to London and Dubai, as well. So far, more than 300 girls have participated in the Girls4Tech workshops in the U.S. and Germany. 

Photo Credit: Girls4Tech Mastercard