How to prepare girls for the tech revolution

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Childhood these days doesn’t look much like when you were a kid. Video games can transport you to a whole different place via VR, for one. Ordering a pizza means opening an app, not talking to a human, and hanging out with friends can happen via FaceTime.

Screen time limits aside, we’re living life online more than ever before—and this shift is opening a whole new world of opportunities for today’s kids. 

A new high-tech world is upon us

According to a report by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a research initiative housed at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson), our growing reliance on technology will redefine employment over the next 10 to 15 years—along with most other aspects of everyday life. 

Virtual and augmented reality will transform everyday experiences—from entertainment to on-the-job training. AI and automation will enable many workers to do away with mundane tasks and make work more meaningful. Blockchain technology will change the nature of financial transactions, from banking to real estate. 3D printing will evolve supply chains and change how we produce and consume goods, and so on.

Indeed, as different as the world may look now compared to 20 years ago, these and other advances will continue to disrupt life as we know it. As a result, preparing kids for the future also looks a lot different than it did before.

Future success means encouraging girls to pursue STEM

Technological innovations are creating seismic shifts throughout society—and the job landscape, in particular, is forecast to see a real shakeup. 

According to the Brookfield report, more than one in seven Canadians currently works in a field that’s expected to decline in the coming years. Meanwhile, just 19 per cent of Canadians are currently working in occupations that are forecast to grow—and women are less likely than men to be employed in these high-potential careers. 

A Statistics Canada analysis of representation of women in STEM programs presents more worrisome data: in 2016, women made up only 34 per cent of STEM bachelor’s degree holders and 23 per cent of science and technology workers among Canadians aged 25 to 64. 

Curbing these trends starts with inspiring girls to dream big about how they can use STEM skills to lead the way towards an exciting new future. After engaging more than two million girls around the world, Mastercard has expanded its signature STEM education program—Girls4Tech™—across Canada to do just that. 

The future of tech is female

Offering a variety of free resources for girls aged eight to 16, Mastercard Girls4Tech is a hands-on program designed to activate girls’ logical and analytical powers and inspire them to change the world with math, science and technology. 

This starts with practical exercises that illustrate how technological concepts such as algorithms, cybersecurity, data privacy and cryptology apply in girls’ everyday lives. 

In one module, for example, participants are asked to think about their own personal data that they’d like to protect online. Via a series of fun games and exercises, they learn the same principles Mastercard cryptologists use to protect sensitive financial data.

“Many of the jobs for future generations will require a background in STEM, but there continues to be a low proportion of women graduating and pursuing these fields as adults,” says Sasha Krstic, president of Mastercard in Canada. “Giving girls equal opportunities is important to removing the barriers they face and allowing them to pursue and thrive in STEM careers that will help contribute to a diverse and equitable workforce for the future.”

For Eva, a Girls4Tech alum and former intern at Mastercard, the program played a key role when it came to choosing a career path. 

“The experience from Girls4Tech was instrumental in my decision to pursue physics, chemistry and math when I was in Grade 11,” she says. “Now in university, I’m in an honours computer science program. I am truly enjoying what I’m doing and I’m so excited for all the opportunities ahead.” 

Exposure and encouragement can have life-changing implications when it comes to STEM careers, many of which don’t even exist yet. Eva affirms, “Girls4Tech made me see what was possible.” 

Learn more about Mastercard Girls4Tech.

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