Come September, Girl Scouts will begin offering cybersecurity as its newest badge activity, meaning skills like coding and cryptography will be joining more traditional offerings like first aid and gardening.
The organization is partnering with security company Palo Alto Networks to introduce 18 cybersecurity badges for Scouts age Kindergarten through 12th grade, with the hope of getting more girls involved in STEM fields—or at least helping them protect their own online identities. Women currently hold just 11 percent of jobs in the cybersecurity industry, according to a study by the nonprofit (ISC)2.
A statement released by the organization says that it plans to
“introduce cybersecurity education to millions of girls across the United States through compelling programming designed to increase their interest and instill in them a valuable 21st century skillset. This national effort is a huge step toward eliminating traditional barriers to industry access, such as gender and geography, and will target girls as young as five years old, helping to ensure that even the youngest girls have a foundation primed for future life and career success.”
The latest Cybersecurity Jobs Report from Cybesecurity Ventures predicts that the worldwide deficit of qualified professionals in that field will reach 3.5 million by 2021, while cyber attacks will only continue to increase. The Girl Scouts saw an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, hoping to fill the vacuum with women who might not otherwise know such job opportunities are even available.
Said Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo:
“At Girl Scouts of the USA, we recognize that in our increasingly tech-driven world, future generations must possess the skills to navigate the complexities and inherent challenges of the cyber realm. From arming our older girls with the tools to address this reality to helping younger girls protect their identities via internet safety, the launch of our national cybersecurity badge initiative represents our advocacy of cyber preparedness―and our partnership with Palo Alto Networks makes a natural fit for our efforts. It is our hope that our collaboration will serve to cultivate our troops’ budding interest in cybersecurity by providing access to invaluable knowledge that may otherwise not be available to girls―in communities across the United States.”
Meanwhile, Boy Scouts of America are out there spending thousands to fight legislation that would punish child sexual predators. Just saying!