Girls Just Want to Have… STEM!
“Make it better than any program you’ve done before, make it global and make it for girls,” those were the instructions from Mastercard’s CEO Ajay Banga to Susan Warner, VP Global Volunteerism, in 2014. For anyone who has experience creating an international employee engagement program, they know these things do not happen overnight. It takes time, effort and a whole lot of dedication.
Now in its fifth year, Girls4Tech™ is the company’s signature STEM education program, which has reached more than 430,000 girls to date. The company is committed to motivating young girls to build STEM skills that will help them become leaders of tomorrow. Susan created Girls4Tech™ to inspire girls to pursue STEM careers because she knows this to be true: “With a 50/50 balance in the technology fields, all companies, including [Mastercard], will be better and stronger. And to us, that’s priceless.”
The Girls4Tech™ programs are organized by regional coordinators and they are the ones who encourage employees to serve as role models and mentors, teaching the foundations of payments technology in fun, engaging ways. During a session, girls will crack codes, listen for potential fraud, solve problems using big data and more. Adds Lauren Ottulich, manager, Global Volunteerism, “By bringing girls to our offices and going to their schools, our employee mentors showcase their passion for payments technology with the hope to spark future STEM careers – maybe even one at Mastercard someday.”
With a target to reach one million girls by 2025, Mastercard looks to scale the program even more thanks to partnerships, including Scholastic, Major League Baseball, R&A, NFTE and more. While the original program is designed for girls ages 8-12, the team just launched a Girls4Tech™ 2.0 program for older girls and are continuing to develop new curriculum based on cybersecurity and AI for extended learning.
With the current stats – 430,000 girls; 27 countries; 3,500 mentors and 350 plus events, you could say this volunteer duo has accomplished what they set out to do. But after speaking with them, I only had one question… What’s next? Reach two million girls with the power of STEM?
They both agreed that it’s not a number they are going for, it’s the impact the program will have on the girls and the Mastercard employees. Adds Susan, “Our goal is to set the foundation so our employees can make a difference, one girl at a time.”