Across the world – and especially throughout the United States -- there is a notable difference between the number of boys who are interested in STEM-based careers and the girls who pursue the same. So last month Scholastic, one of the biggest children’s publishing and media companies, announced that they are partnering up with MasterCard in an effort to combat this discrepancy.
As many as 20% of school-aged boys today say that they are interested in one day pursuing a STEM-based career. Jobs in STEM – which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math – aren’t quite as popular among school-aged girls, however, with only 5% of them indicating an interest.
The discrepancy between the genders could be due to a lack of awareness, opportunity for STEM education and materials, or even a difference in the skills and confidence often required to pursue these fields. No matter the reason, though, MasterCard and Scholastic want to see these numbers shift. So the two global giants are teaming up to provide the resources, awareness, and encouragement necessary to empower girls toward a STEM-based career.
What the Initiative Does
Back in 2014, MasterCard planted the seeds for this collaboration with their Girls4Tech program. The STEM-focused program has, in its short four years, already reached almost 75,000 girls in 21 countries across the world. It provides free materials to schools and community organizations, intended to educate and inspire young girls, as well as give them the encouragement and inspiration that they need to pursue a career in a STEM field.
Now with Scholastic, the global credit card giant will broaden their efforts. This collaboration is expected to reach as many as 20,000 classrooms and land in the hands of 300,000 young girls nationwide. These STEM materials will be made even more accessible to teachers, allowing them to easily introduce the curriculum in their classrooms and inspire girls across the country.
What It Provides
The Girls4Tech program will now expand its free curriculum, provided by Scholastic and MasterCard. This curriculum includes lesson plans for teachers, as well as demos and hands-on materials that can be introduced to students of all ages.
They cover topics such as fraud detection, data analysis, algorithms, encryption, and digital convergence, among others. These areas of study are becoming even more and more important in our increasingly-tech-based world, and will likely be imperative for today’s young girls as they approach college and begin entering the workforce. By not only introducing them to these fields of study now but also supporting their interest, educating them on the topics, and giving them the confidence needed to pursue a STEM-based career, MasterCard and Scholastic are supporting the next generation of empowered (and powerful) women.
Workshops and Contests
Beyond the free provided materials included in the Girls4Tech program, there are also opportunities for workshops and additional funding.
There are two contests currently being offered by the collaboration. The first is Tech4Innovation, which is open to girls in grades 3-7. It challenges young students to develop a digital innovation that solves an existing (or future) real-world problem. Prizes include a $1,000 grant for the teacher involved, as well as a $250 prize and a new laptop for each of the two girls who win (divided by grades 3-5 and 6-7). There’s also a grand prize awarded for one submission, which gives the submitting teacher a $2,500 grant and the winning student a $500 gift card plus a new laptop.
There’s also a teacher sweepstakes, offering a Girls4Tech workshop event to the winner(s). Teachers simply need to submit an explanation as to why their school would benefit from such an event. If selected, the workshop would be held at the school and provide students with an opportunity to participate in innovative and tech-based activities.
This collaboration helps take an existing program like Girls4Tech and further expand it to impact even more girls across the country. By providing support, awareness, and materials to young students, MasterCard and Scholastic can help cultivate a rising generation of empowered girls in STEM-based careers.
Dana Lorberg, executive vice president of Operations and Technology at Mastercard, said, “There’s nothing like helping a girl find her passion and reach her full potential. Partnering with Scholastic exponentially broadens the impact Girls4Tech can make on our young girls today and, in turn, our workforce tomorrow. It’s powerful for girls, women, education and STEM, and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of it.”
To learn more about MasterCard’s efforts and their collaboration with Scholastic, visit their Facebook page here.