New Stem educational programme to prepare young women for careers in fintech

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah (right) with United Women Singapore president Georgette Tan at the launch of the programme. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

SINGAPORE - An educational programme to equip young women with fundamental skills and confidence to enter the fintech industry was launched on Friday (April 22).

The programme, Stem First, will provide female students between the ages of 16 and 24 support such as training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) as well as mentorship.

It is a joint effort by Citi and United Women Singapore (UWS).

It will kick off with a research study and curriculum development, as well as a six-month experiential learning pilot programme for 40 female participants.

Citi Foundation has provided a grant of US$200,000 (S$273,000) for the first year of this programme.

The programme will include modules such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, cloud and cyber security and data analytics.

Participants will also benefit from exclusive access to mentorship circles, job shadowing opportunities and workplace visits to Stem employers to gain a first-hand understanding of jobs in the field. Among the mentors and workshop facilitators will be volunteers from Citi.

The foundational programme will benefit up to 100 young women from its second year.

The funding is part of Citi Foundation's expanded global Pathways to Progress initiative, designed to equip youth from underserved communities with the skills and confidence to advance their employability and career opportunities in a rapidly changing economy.

Speaking at the launch event at 80RR Fintech Hub SG at Robinson Road, UWS board member Harmin Kaur said that UWS research has shown that when it comes to pursuing careers in Stem, girls have a lack of confidence rather than competence.

Encouraging girls to develop an interest in tech from a young age will be an important step in bringing more women into the field as it will instil more confidence in them, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, who was the guest-of-honour at the launch event and spoke with UWS president Georgette Tan in a fireside chat.

"Confidence is built only when you try something and succeed. Once you get that very first success, it becomes a foundation upon which you can build," said Ms Indranee, who is also Second Minister of Finance and National Development.

Mr Amol Gupte, Citi's Asean head and Citi country officer for Singapore, said: "We are pleased to continue our efforts in advancing women by equipping them with skill sets and mindsets to succeed in Stem-related careers."

The number of tech professionals in Singapore has grown to more than 200,000 today, with the number of tech jobs increasing by about 10,000 annually in the last three years, according to statistics from the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) released in 2021.

Women make up 41 per cent of the tech workforce in Singapore, surpassing the global average of 28 per cent, IMDA said.

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