Badges make today's Girl Scouts tomorrow's cybersleuths Today's Girl Scouts, tomorrow's cybersleuths. (Girl Scouts of the United States/Joybot/Flickr)
Badges make today's Girl Scouts tomorrow's cybersleuths
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How safe is your data? Probably not as safe as you think. Many things put personal information at risk. Those things even include international cyber attacks to your smart refrigerator. Your money can be at risk. And even your own safety. But there is help. The world has a cybercrime-fighting force. It is the Girl Scouts. That's according to Catherine Thorbecke reporting for ABC News

Girl Scouts of the USA developed a series of cybersecurity badges. Thorbecke reported the badges covered everything. They cover hacking. They cover online identity protection. They were released in fall 2018. 

The thought of scouts learning to thwart hackers and tackle cyberthreats may seem surprising. But it shouldn’t be. There are hundreds of badges a Girl Scout can earn. They don’t all involve campfires. They don’t all involve first aid. They include everything. They include badges for fashion. They include badges for business. They include badges for social innovation. And even badges for computing. 

The Girl Scouts' leadership has made a commitment. It is to STEM education. They wanted to develop a scientific and technological discovery program. It exposes girls to STEM topics every year. One topic is cybersecurity.

The organization partnered with Palo Alto Networks. It is a security company. Together, they developed the 18 badges. Palo Alto Networks called the program “a huge step toward eliminating traditional barriers to industry access, such as gender and geography.” 

The program targets girls as young as five. There are badges. They require mastery of different cybersecurity topics. The hope is that today’s Girl Scouts will become the future’s industry leaders.

That's important. Today's cyber industry has proved hard for women to crack. A report found that women report higher levels of education than men in the industry. But just 20 percent of cybersecurity workers are women. Women earn a lower salary in the industry. They also experience discrimination once they enter the industry.

Fifty-one percent of women surveyed said they’d experienced discrimination. They have seen unexplained delays in advancement. They have also seen exaggerated highlighting of their mistakes. That is compared to just 15 percent of men. Slate’s Josephine Wolff reported on the issue. She said making industry-adjacent events like hackathons more welcoming to women could help with recruitment. So could the Girl Scouts’ program.

Encouraging girls to get involved in cyber is a win for everyone. That's what GSUSA’s CEO Sylvia Acevedo said in a press release. It’s all about cyber-preparedness. The cost of cybercrime is expected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021. So it’s never too early to have more cybersleuths on the case.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do you think adding STEM badges for Girls Scouts or Boy Scouts may be helpful to today's kids?
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