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STEM Education: Even Tiny Ripples Can Build Currents

I find it kind of funny that I majored in English Literature but I’m exceedingly passionate about STEM. I loved math in school but growing up in a small farming/fishing community, there weren’t a lot of cryptologists or fraud detectives running through the fields or on the lobster boats. Without a role model, I couldn’t picture what I would do with a math major. But after listening to Rear Admiral and computer pioneer Grace Hopper speak at my graduation at Hartwick College, I knew exactly what could be done if someone had a passion for STEM.

Girls4Tech

I have no regrets on the course of my career because I write about STEM every single day, and I’ve been fortunate to take my passion for technology and turn it into education curriculums for young children. For MasterCard, I created Girls4Tech™, a hands-on, inquiry based program that showcases our technology and engages our employees as role models and mentors.

Since the program’s launch, we’ve reached more than 1,800 girls and engaged 600+ employees around the world. But you know what the best thing is about the curriculum?  It’s the girls. Whether they are from St. Louis, Frankfurt, Dubai, Sydney, the Bronx, Buenos Aires, Pune, London or Rome – the girls react the exact same way to the hands-on activities on algorithms, fraud detection, cryptology and more.

Everyone’s heard the statistics:  80% of the jobs in the next 10 years will require STEM skills. And right now, less than 30% of the STEM jobs are filled by women. There’s a real gap and with girls’ declining interest in STEM subjects, that gap can only widen. Corporations, thinking about talent pipelines, have definitely heeded the call. Just search corporations and STEM, and you’ll find a variety of activities around the world.

To us, it’s less about pipeline and more about passion. G4T is about our employees’ commitment to STEM and showing that it takes all kinds of skills and interests to pursue a STEM career. After all, if the girls can see it, they can be it. Because as the daughter of a longshore fisherman, I know this…ripples, even the tiniest, can build currents.

But don’t take my word for it.  Here are some comments from the girls:

I give you two thumbs up!

– G4T rules! Can’t wait to come back. 

– I really enjoyed this program and I want to work at MasterCard someday!

– I really enjoyed learning about how MasterCard works and real life experiences with STEM. 

And perhaps my favorite from an 8th grade Girl Scout from the Bronx – “I see myself differently now.”  It’s posted on my office wall.