In the future, Girl Scouts may prevent the next Russian cyberattack in between selling Thin Mints. The girls youth organization recently announced the introduction of 18 new cybersecurity badges, which will be introduced in September 2018.
In the past, Girl Scouts have been rewarded with badges for mastering skills like first aid, painting, and jewelry making. Now, in a partnership with security firm Palo Alto Networks, they'll be able to earn badges in cybersecurity, too. Scouts in kindergarten and first grade, known as Daisies, will be taught the basics of data privacy and online safety, while older Scouts up to grade 12 will be introduced to coding, firewalls, and how to become a "white hat hacker" (coder-slang for a hacker who uses her skills for good, not evil).
"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," Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo said in a press release.
With this partnership, Girl Scouts hopes to introduce girls to computer and internet literacy and provide access to a demographic that is often left out of the burgeoning field. According to a recent study, women are grossly underrepresented in the global cybersecurity industry, making up only 11 percent of the workforce. Furthermore, the Computing Technology Industry association reports that 69 percent of women who have not pursued careers in information technology attribute their choice to not knowing what opportunities are available to them.
"It is our hope that our collaboration will serve to cultivate our troops' budding interest in cyber security by providing access to invaluable knowledge that may otherwise not be available to girls," said Acevedo.
While there have been past cyber-related programs at the local level (like the Game Design badge available to LA-based Scouts), the organization's new commitment to cyber security education means that all 1.8 million Girl Scouts across the country will have access to learning these skills and, of course, earning the badges to prove it.