MasterCard will be hosting a hackathon in Singapore this weekend (28 and 29 March 2015) with a special focus on women in technology.
Called Masters of Code, the hackathon will require developers and entrepreneurs in the republic to use MasterCard's API platforms to create apps that will deliver the best commerce experience and empower women. Gender diversity in participating teams will contribute to bonus points during the judging process too, said MasterCard. When asked the reason for the chosen theme, MasterCard's Group Executive for Global Products and Solutions TV Seshadri said that the company hopes to balance the male-to-female participant ratio in the hackathon, and allow women to hone their coding and IT skills by doing so.
The winning team from Singapore will be flown to Silicon Valley to compete in the grand finale of the Masters of Code hackathon. The champion from the finale will receive six months of mentorship from a member of the MasterCard Open API executive team, and be rewarded US$100,000 to develop their innovation. Ownership of the solution will be given fully to the winner, said Seshadri.
Gender parity still sluggish in APAC
MasterCard's most recent Index of Women's Advancement found that progress towards gender parity among women in the Asia Pacific region is still sluggish. This is especially so in the areas of business leadership, business ownership and political participation, said Seshadri.
"New Zealand and the Philippines are the only two countries having more than 50 women business/government leaders for every 100 male business/government leaders. But Singaporean women have also made commendable progress over the last nine years in business ownership, with the proportion of female-to-male business owners increasing from 29.9 in 2007 to 42.1 this year," he said. He added that education and real-world experience are crucial for women across the region to advance in their careers.
Empowering women the MasterCard way
With that understanding, MasterCard has embarked on a number of efforts - besides the hackathon -- to empower women globally. "MasterCard is committed to helping more women at every stage achieve equal opportunities in the fields of business, science and technology," said Seshadri.
For instance, MasterCard has partnered with the Singapore Committee for UN Women to launch a curriculum for 10 to 15 year-old girls, focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The programme aims to offer young girls access to an engaging way to learn and build enthusiasm around STEM subjects.
MasterCard also has collaborations with universities and organisations in the region such as Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance, said Seshadri. Under the partnership, MasterCard awards scholarships to female students with leadership potential, as part of its commitment to help close the business and tech gender gap.
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