Girl Scouts Will Offer Badges To Encourage Girls To Learn Cybersecurity And Pursue STEM Subjects

Wear these badges proudly.

A Girl Scout can earn badges in a number of categories, including some that have to do with the environment, others revolving around business and sales, and more recognizing proficiency in team building and life skills. But now, the Girl Scouts are adding another set of badges worth noting — ones that symbolize skills in cybersecurity. 

According to a report from Girl Scouts of the USA,  about 74 percent of high school girls are interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, but women only account for about 20 percent of the bachelor's degrees in these subjects. Only 25 percent of STEM positions are held by women. 

So, in an effort to change these statistics for future generations, Girl Scouts is encouraging young girls to pursue STEM fields by offering 18 educational cybersecurity badges to participants in grades K through 12. According to CBS News, Girl Scouts will partner with Palo Alto Networks, a security company, to teach girls lessons in privacy, coding, and ethical hacking. 

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"According to the latest Cybersecurity Jobs Report by Cybersecurity Ventures, the worldwide deficit of qualified cybersecurity professionals will reach 3.5 million by 2021," it says in a press release from Palo Alto Networks. "A deficit of this magnitude can inhibit the industry's ability to prevent cyber breaches, and the challenge is compounded by the growing frequency and sophistication of cyber-attacks. Getting ahead of tomorrow's threats requires a larger, diverse and innovative team of problem solvers."

Palo Alto Networks also points to another study that shows that women are underrepresented in the cybersecurity industry, with 69 percent of women not knowing what opportunities are available in the field.

"At Girl Scouts of the USA, we recognize that in our increasingly tech-driven world, future generations must possess the skills to navigate the complexities and inherent challenges of the cyber realm. From arming our older girls with the tools to address this reality, to helping younger girls protect their identities via internet safety, the launch of our national cybersecurity badge initiative represents our advocacy of cyber preparedness," Sylvia Acevedo, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the USA, says in the press release. 

"It is our hope that our collaboration will serve to cultivate our troops' budding interest in cybersecurity by providing access to invaluable knowledge that may otherwise not be available to girls―in communities across the United States." 

Check out more in the video below:

(H/T: HuffPost)

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