Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tech: Girl Scouts Can Now Seek Cybersecurity Badges


girlscout

Every Girl Scout remembers receiving her first badge and now, thanks to a partnership between Girl Scouts of the USA, and network and enterprise security company Palo Alto Networks Inc., girls will have the opportunity to work for cybersecurity badges.

The Girl Scouts have made a concerted effort to bring their skills program into the science, technology, and engineering age including working with Alphabet Inc.’s Google on coding projects. Focusing on cybersecurity makes perfect sense in the age of massive international cyberattacks.  

In June, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based security company and the youth organization announced a series of 18 cybersecurity badges that will be available starting in September 2018. 

The initiative will equip young girls and teenagers with the knowledge to positively influence the future of the industry, the groups said in a joint statement.

The new badge program could eventually help close the gender gap in the cybersecurity workforce. Cybersecurity professionals previously told Bloomberg BNA that women are underrepresented in the cybersecurity field. Women only hold 11 percent of cybersecurity jobs globally and 14 percent in North America, according to the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study (ISC)² blog. 

Many women in tech advocacy groups are thrilled with the cybersecurity badge initiative and hope it will even the score between cyberattackers and defenders.

“It’s an absolutely wonderful idea,” Suzanne Porter-Kuchay, chairperson of the Women in Technology’s Cybersecurity Special Interest Group, told Bloomberg BNA. “The cyber defenders are fighting a losing battle and attackers are getting more creative. So, it’s really important as a nation that we use all of our resources—boys and girls.”

The Women's Society of Cyberjutsu, a women’s technology trade organization, said this initiative is important in building cybersecurity skills in young people, especially girls at a young age, since they’re not pushed to do it while they’re still children.

“It’s about prepping our young cyber ninjas for a future of technology and security,” Mari Galloway, director of finance and communications at Women Cyberjutsu, told Bloomberg BNA. “That's why programs like Cyberjutsu Girls Academy and Girl Scouts are important because we introduce these concepts to them at a young age,” she said.

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