The girl scouts of the USA will begin offering 18 cybersecurity ‘badges’ for their participants (girls K-12) in September 2018. Badges represent the scouts accomplishments and opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), while they continue to exemplify leadership knowledge, skills and abilities. The girl scouts make up about 1.8million girls…exposing them to these subject areas can only help narrow the technical gender gap and increase opportunities. With cybersecurity professionals in high demand, it is a strategic move in the right ‘technical’ direction; it will not only reduce the shortage we expect to have in cybersecurity careers, but will motivate, educate and arm them with the expertise…positioning them for success in the future.
In an industry that is ever growing, ever challenging, and ever surprising us, the need for a robust and diverse set of talent is critical…and the girl scouts are doing their part to satisfy this need. Ms. Acevedo, CEO of the Girl Scouts, offer that the badges give “skills to navigate the complexities and inherent challenges of the cyber realm.” How will they be earned one may ask? Simple…through hands-on activities, field trips, mentoring and meetings (similar to the other badge requirements). In addition, through games and various techniques, the girls will enhance their knowledge in the STEM areas while collaborating, sharing and exploring partnerships.
With only 11% of females in the cyber workforce, teaching the scouts about cyber is a smart strategy; they will not only develop courage, confidence and character, but with a targeted security focus. The girls will have the knowledge, tools and resources to conquer cyber issues, bolster internet safety, and prepare themselves and others to protect. Preparedness and partnerships are key in the fight against cybercrime and the introduction of this new ‘badge’ is only the beginning.
The collaboration, partnerships and information sharing that will take place in addition to the acquisition of the badge will foster additional knowledge, skills and abilities in the field. The motivation and renewed interest that comes from the pursuit of the badge justifies the need for more work in the cybersecurity arena. The girl scouts recognized this critical need and stepped up to meet the demand through education, learning, achievement and recognition….good for them!
Girl scouts across the nation, regardless of background, race, ethnicity, etc., they too, can take part in this unique opportunity. The program will reach those in kindergarten through sixth grade and is a partnership between the Girl Scouts and a security company called Palo Alto Networks.
With a cyber focus on prevention and restoration, the scouts will work on digital operations, emerging cyber threats and more; through hands-on problem solving and education, they will learn about vulnerabilities and mitigation, critical to protection. Skills developed can be carried into their futures and built upon, reducing barriers to cybersecurity employment. With women currently being underrepresented in this industry, this new strategic opportunity for the girl scouts aims to tackle this problem one badge at a time.
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