Girl Scouts to offer cybersecurity badges

Girls will soon have more opportunities to learn the basics of cybersecurity. Last week, Girls Scouts of the USA announced a partnership with Palo Alto Networks to create 18 cybersecurity badges, which can be earned by girls in grades K-12 who demonstrate a command of various aspects of cybersecurity.

The first courses will be available from September 2018, and will be led by a panel of expert advisors.

Women in cybersecurity

Currently, women are severely underrepresented in STEM-based occupations (science, technology, engineering, and math), but Fortune believes that the “single-gender, collaborative, mentorship-focused nature [of the Girl Scouts] makes it a particularly welcoming place for girls’ STEM education.” It cites research by Accenture and Girls Who Code, which found that, for girls in middle school (ages 9-11), having a mentor increased the likelihood of a girl pursuing computer science by 16%.

The CEO of Girl Scouts, Sylvia Acevedo, believes this partnership will boost girls’ interest in cybersecurity. She said: “Many of these girls are developing skills that they wouldn’t get in schools. We’re giving these girls the skills they need to be successful in a global marketplace.”

Indeed, there is definitely a need for cybersecurity professionals. The job shortage in the industry continues to grow across the globe. Earlier this year, (ISC)2 and the Center for Cyber Safety and Education estimated that the gap between the predicted number of job openings and the number of new recruits is expected to rise to 1.8 million worldwide by 2022.

Acevedo says that the idea of cybersecurity badges actually came from the Scouts themselves. “Young girls wanted to know how to make sure they don’t get bullied online […] older girls want to know how you can prevent cyber attacks.”

With the safety of children online a growing concern for kids and parents alike, Girl Scouts isn’t the only organization taking action. Last month, Google launched its Be Internet Awesome campaign, which features an interactive game designed to help kids learn how to stay safe while online.

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