It was recently announced that Girl Scouts of the USA is collaborating with Palo Alto Networks to start offering several (18, to be exact) cybersecurity-related badges. These badges are intended to help young Girl Scouts explore STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) in hands-on ways while building their confidence and leadership skills in these area, as well. We think this is amazing news, for more than one reason!
It’s not a secret that there’s a problematic gender gap in STEM related fields. Furthermore, the cybersecurity professionals gap in general is estimated to reach a global deficit of 3.5 million employees by 2021. By reaching Girl Scouts when they’re young and getting them involved in cybersecurity programs early on, we’re helping to build the next generation of STEM workers – and we’re communicating to their generation that they’re capable and encouraged to enter STEM fields, which have been predominantly viewed as “masculine” in the past according to recent surveys.
However, this new series of cybersecurity and other STEM badges being made available to Girl Scouts speaks to us on a deeper level. Cybersecurity continues to be a pressing issue in every industry. As data breaches and ransomware hacks become increasingly evolved as the technology becomes available, we need to create innovative solutions to protect our governments, businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals against these relentless attacks. While cybersecurity firms, like ours, are working together to promote a focus on cybersecurity, we need something more to help. We need the next several generations of bright, cyber-minded students to prioritize security as much as we do if not more so.
The Girl Scouts sees cybersecurity for what it is – an absolutely necessary field of study for all individuals. By introducing these lessons to Girl Scouts from Daisies to Juniors and beyond, they’re setting a precedence. They’re showing the younger generations we so desperately need to care that protecting ourselves is important. And they’re taking initiative in involving girls in STEM – something that everyone should be prioritizing.
We’re thrilled with this recent announcement, and we’re excited to see how these badges help guide Girl Scouts in their cybersecurity training. We’re also excited to see how this big step towards closing the gender gap in STEM impacts other organizations – personally, we fully expect a domino effect. And for that, we send Girl Scouts of America and Palo Alto Networks our sincerest thanks.