Badges make today's Girl Scouts tomorrow's cybersleuths
How safe is your data? Probably not as safe as you think. Everything from international cyber attacks to your smart refrigerator can put personal information at risk. This includes your money and even your own safety. But there is help. The world has a new cybercrime-fighting force, the Girl Scouts. That's according to Catherine Thorbecke reporting for ABC News
In 2017, Girl Scouts of the USA announced that it developed a series of cybersecurity badges. Thorbecke reports that the badges cover everything. They cover hacking to 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 currently earn. And they don’t all involve campfires and first aid. They encompass everything. There are badges for fashion and business. There are badges for social innovation and computing.
The Girl Scouts' leadership has made a commitment to STEM education. They wanted to develop a scientific and technological discovery program that exposes girls to STEM topics every year. One such topic is cybersecurity.
The organization partnered with security company, Palo Alto Networks. Together, they developed the 18 badges. In a press release, 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 with badges. These badges require mastery of different cybersecurity topics. The hope is that today’s Girl Scouts will become the future’s industry leaders.
That's important, considering 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 today, just 20 percent of cybersecurity workers are women. Women earn a lower salary in the industry and they also experience discrimination once they enter the industry.
Fifty-one percent of women surveyed said they’d experienced discrimination. They have seen everything from unexplained delays in advancement to 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’ new program.
Encouraging girls to get involved in cyber is a win for everyone—as 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.