They’re best known for their Thin Mints, but the Girl Scouts of America want members to learn all about the risks of today’s digital society, too. To achieve that goal, the Scouts will add 18 new IT merit badges to their repertoire. The new program rolls out next year in partnership with California’s Palo Alto Networks, one of the nation’s largest data security firms.
The badges are designed to boost data risk awareness but also to expose young girls to the world of information technology.
“To encourage girls to become the experts who can meet future cybersecurity challenges, GSUSA and Palo Alto Networks are teaming up to deliver the first-ever national cybersecurity badges for girls in grades K–12,” said Scouts CEO Silvia Acevedo.
The most recent Cybersecurity Jobs Report prepared by Cybersecurity Ventures predicts a worldwide deficit of qualified professionals in the field will reach 3.5 million by 2021. Women hold just 11% of all jobs in the industry.
The new commitment from Girl Scouts dovetails nicely with their focus on STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math). For Palo Alto Networks, the desire to lend a hand is simple logic.
“Our mission to prevent cyber attacks and restore trust in the digital age is only achievable if we make meaningful investments not just in technology but also in people,” said Mark McLaughlin, chairman and CEO. “Our collaboration with Girl Scouts of the USA to develop curriculum for the first-ever national cyber security badges will positively influence the future of our industry by helping build tomorrow’s diverse and innovative team of problem solvers equipped to counter emerging cyber threats.”
The new badge materials debut in September 2018. They’ll be geared to ages 5 through 12. Think you could earn one? We’ll keep you abreast of details as they become available.