Do you know what badges Girl Scouts are collecting these days? It’s not just Hiker, Making Friends, and Cookie CEO anymore. With a strong focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), a now-core Girl Scouts branch of learning that debuted in 2012, there are now initiatives aimed at engaging girls in engineering and programming early on in their lives. And what’s new for GSUSA in 2018? The rapid growth field of Cybersecurity.
The Girl Scouts’ new focus on science and technology
In 2017, the Girl Scouts released accumulative badges within STEM tracks (Engineering: Think Like an Engineer, and Computer Science: Think Like a Programmer) in collaboration with Code.org, SciStarter, and other authoritative companies.
This year, they’re kicking the STEM branch up a notch with no less than 18 new Cybersecurity badges to be rolled out, starting in September 2018. The Cybersecurity badges and corresponding track were developed in association with Palo Alto Networks, a global cybersecurity leader.
The new Cybersecurity badges mark an initiative spearheaded by Sylvia Acevedo, a rocket scientist and the CEO of Girl Scouts USA. With women making up just 11% of cybersecurity professionals in the world, Acevedo wants to turn this figure around.
In an interview with NBC News, Acevedo explains that the program is designed for Scouts “to take on the growing threat of data breaches, hacking, and identity theft,” and that girls these days are really interested in “protecting their identity online, how to protect themselves when they’re browsing, how to protect their computers, their family networks from being hacked.”
Currently, girls are trialing the program before its release across the country. In the words of one of the 9-year-olds currently participating, “Helping people be safe is kind of what Girl Scouts do!”
Cybersecurity badges mark a new future for the Girl Scouts
The new Cybersecurity badges will stand alongside current tech badges including Netiquette, Website Designer, and Programming Robots (shown above), as well as Computer Expert, Inventor, and Entertainment Technology to get girls geared up for their tech-entrenched futures.
“It’s going to be exciting to see these girls become our cyber-defenders”
– Rinki Sethi, Palo Alto Networks, Girl Scouts Cybersecurity Program Designer
The Girl Scouts’ mission is to unleash the inner G.I.R.L. (as a Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, and Leader) of its members, and they don’t just talk the talk. Their track record is impressive, with all three female former secretaries of state once Girl Scouts, and 73% of female United States senators previously carrying the Girl Scout moniker.
The dedicated cybersecurity track in the Girl Scouts hopes to shape the next generation of cybersecurity experts—an exciting proposition.
The future of online security and privacy
Over here at ExpressVPN we also like to engage in community initiatives focusing on security and privacy. Currently, applications for our 2018 ExpressVPN Future of Privacy Scholarship are open. With the chance to pocket a cool $5,000 cash prize and see your work displayed across multiple communications platforms, this is an opportunity for students to get fully engaged in the online privacy debate.
We encourage everyone—Girl Scouts, privacy enthusiasts, opinion makers, and budding journalists—to apply.
Write an impassioned, informed, enlightening piece on the prompt:
“If you had the combined powers of all the world’s leaders, what would be your 10-year plan to ensure the next generation has the right to privacy?”
If you think you have a good answer, check out our scholarship page for more details. Applications close August 31, 2018.
Also published on Medium.