Fintech specialist e4 has launched a Girls in STEM programme to provide girls in underprivileged areas with the support they need to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) post matric.
The end goal of the Girls in STEM programme which was officially launched in August during Women’s Month is the upliftment of underprivileged female youth and to address the shortage of female participants in STEM careers.
e4 approached Melisizwe Computer Lab Project, a non-profit that provides schools in need with computer labs and IT skills training for help with the programme.
Ntombi Mphokane, e4’s human resources and transformation executive is passionate about getting girls into technology.
Mphokane said, “With the rise of tech in today’s society, it is crucial that we invest more into STEM education for girls to be able to pursue a sustainable and meaningful career path”.
The Girls in STEM programme is an after-school programme designed to peak girl learners’ interests and motivate them to take up STEM subjects in Grade 10.
Through the programme, female learners in Grade 9 are introduced to STEM concepts, the crucial year before maths and science are dropped by girls as they are viewed by many as subjects for boys.
The programme is currently recruiting girls from two different schools in Gauteng that Melisizwe Computer Lab Project has previously worked with.
Female learners are selected based on their attitude and aptitude and given technical training in science, maths, engineering, end-user computing, software development and robotics.
The mentorship offered by e4 personnel and other passionate women in the STEM industry as well as the assistance given with personal development is an important part of the programme too.
The programme will run from Grade 9 until the year after matric, then the aim is that girls take up careers or further education in STEM.
Mphokane said, “We are committed to addressing the digital gender divide and developing the next generation of young women leaders as the driving force behind digital innovation”.
Candice Kern-Thomas, founder and director of Melisizwe Computer Lab Project said, “With youth unemployment at record highs and black females being the most vulnerable, we have to start investing in the right initiatives that have an actual measurable impact”.
“We need more corporates to invest in the future of the youth, particularly in townships and rural communities, so the cycle of poverty can be alleviated.”