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STEMming the losses: Closing the tech industry's gender gap

Georgette Tan, group head, Communications, Asia Pacific, MasterCard | March 4, 2015
While women overall are more likely to receive an education, the number of women entering STEM has remained stagnant despite a STEM labour shortage in Asia Pacific and global growth in demand for STEM-related jobs.

Additionally, we need to support women on their education journey.

There is unfortunately, a disparity between the number of women who study STEM-related topics at university and those who actually pursue a STEM-related career, after graduation. Many companies, including MasterCard, offer scholarships to help women pursuing university-level degrees. We've partnered with local institutions Singapore Management University (SMU) and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)to focus on scholarships for women pursuing careers in STEM.

We also offer them internships. Because education — combined with experience — further empowers women to change the world.

And over the past 4 years, we've seen how it's been a win-win situation — the scholarship recipients have a chance to experience first-hand the workings of a technology company and MasterCard gains from the fresh perspective and contributions brought about by these brilliant young women. And we're not the only ones. Tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, and Google offer internship programs, in hopes of developing tomorrow's talent.

Lastly, we collectively need to encourage women of all ages to be active participants in the tech community. An easy first step is to take a coding class or participate in hackathons.

Currently, hackathons tend to be male-dominated.It's been reported that by some estimates, the male-to-female ratio at hackathons could be as high as 15-to-1.

Participating in hackathons — like the upcoming Masters of Code competition in Singapore — allows women to hone their skills — whether it be coding, developing, or bringing to life an innovative idea. It also allows women to put forth ideas that could empower other women — maybe by designing a financial inclusion app or creating a platform connecting women in rural areas to a massive open online course (MOOC).

Women are contributing to the economic growth of markets in Asia Pacific and around the globe, and now more than ever, businesses and governments need to acknowledge the contributions they make in the community and economy, and more importantly, determine how to leverage and harness this 'women power'. The young woman next to you could very well be the inventor of tech's next big thing.


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