MasterCard courts female developers

To help address an industry-wide challenge, the credit card company wants to teach girls to code through a new CSR initiative.

To help MasterCard on its quest to becoming a tech company, the credit card company has been seeking the help of the developer community. But on its journey through events like N>XT, MasterCard discovered a startling truth that’s plagued the tech and science space (not to mention the advertising realm, but that’s a topic for another day).

Women, it seems, are choosing not to pursue careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) realm. As a result, in Canada, less than 39% of all STEM graduates are women.

“[When] we held our very first MasterCard developer challenge last fall, we noticed that under 25% were women,” says Nicolas Dinh, VP mobile payments at MasterCard. “Because MasterCard is becoming more involved in the developer community, we’re trying to engage a new stakeholder, and we really wanted to engage women as that stakeholder.”

To address the issue MasterCard is launching its first-ever partnership with the non-profit organization Ladies Learning Code, which helps teach women and girls the ins and outs of programming. On Nov. 8, the brand is rolling out classes in 15 cities across Canada, hoping to attract 700 girls (ages eight to 13) and their parents.

The biggest insight into this CSR push, he says, is that 29% of women didn’t think they had the appropriate skill-set to pursue a career in STEM, and 11% were never encouraged to develop those skills.

“Programming is a foundational skill-set,” Dinh says, “especially if you want to be considered literate in this digital economy.”

The campaign, beyond helping to drive MasterCard’s commitment to the developer space, also has a longer-term goal, he says. The talent pool in the tech space is very limited in Canada, and by getting more women involved in STEM programs, it will automatically grow in the future. Though the girls participating in this specific event won’t be going on to work at MasterCard right away (after all, they have to graduate high school first), he says it’s an opportunity to engage them earlier on in the process and hopefully encourage them to enter the field at a later date.

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