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Girl Scouts Teach Cybersecurity

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Aug 31, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights

Juliette Gordon Low's vision for the organization was that it would prepare girls to meet their world with courage, confidence and character. In 1912, Low developed an enduring institution that has adapted with the times.  

Originally, it made sense for the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) to work to earn their badges in skills like household chores and gardening and philosophical pursuits like showing compassion and honesty. However, many things have changed for girls and women over the past century and into the new millennium.  

Who Better to Tend to Cybersecurity Than The Ever-Trustworthy Girl Scouts?  

Women have made great strides in business, science, engineering and a stunning array of other traditionally male-dominated pursuits since the inception of the Girl Scouts, so it makes sense that the organization will lead the way toward the next wave of women in technology.  

Palo Alto Networks—a next-generation security platform—has stepped up to the plate to help women stake their place in the technology industry by forming a partnership with the Girl Scouts. This joint effort is designed to encourage girls everywhere to eagerly and confidently pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) studies to chip away at--and ultimately fully dispel—any lingering perceptions that men and women are differently suited to perform the duties associated with STEM careers.  

At 1.8 million girls strong—all having a strong set of ethical and moral standards that align with cybersecurity efforts—it seems fairly certain that Palo Alto Networks have found the right team for the job.  

The Collaboration Between the Girl Scouts and Palo Alto Networks: Bring on the Badges  

In keeping with the traditions of the Girl Scouts, Palo Alto Networks worked with GSUSA leaders to build a program that incorporated the organization's iconic badge system.  

Girls ages K-12 will soon be eligible to earn the first-ever national Girl Scout Cyberscecurity badges. As of September 2018, GSUSA will begin to offer the first in a series of 18 cybersecurity-based badges, based around digital protection, per The Next Web. The first badges will be granted to the youngest of the Scouts. Girls ages 5-6 will teach—that's right, teach—the basics about firewall and identity protection to earn the first badge of the series.  

Programs for older Scouts won't launch until 2019 since those programs will be more complex, focusing on complex programming and ethical hacking skills.  

The goals of the technology badges are simple, yet so important to the efforts of encouraging all young girls to explore opportunities in STEM in order to help pave new paths for women in technology.  

How Might the Girl Scouts' Cybersecurity Badges Help Encourage the Next Generation of Women in Technology? 

According to Master Intelligence, girls may just need more encouragement and positive reinforcement when it comes to selecting STEM studies and sticking with them. MasterCard sponsored a December 2015 study that focused on girls interviewing girls ages 12-19 across six markets in Asia Pacific. The results revealed that parents, at 68 percent, were the most influential force behind their decision to pursue STEM topics. At only 8 percent, teachers are not a particularly strong voice of encouragement for girls considering STEM studies.  

In the United States, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association, 69 percent of women who did not pursue technology-oriented careers attribute their choice to not knowing about the possible opportunities available.  

Groups like the GSUSA, which fosters all positive pursuits for young girls, may be able to bridge the gap between that strong family influence that spurs girls to earnestly pursue studies and eventual careers in technology and the lack of broader societal support from teachers and peers. Palo Alto Networks clearly seems to have faith in this strategy. A blog post by Rinki Sethi, the senior director of the company's security operations wrote, " While the younger generation has seen more female role models in science and technology than I remember seeing as a kid, I still think there is more encouragement that can be done and more we can do to inspire young female students to enter these career fields." 

Given the fact that technology is here to stay and continually grow, the field needs honest, intelligent, curious, confident and conscientious professionals from all walks of life. The ethics ingrained in Girl Scout members fits that criteria perfectly.  

But What About the Google Memo?  

If someone only read James Damore's Google Memo, as it pertains to women in the technology industry, they might dismiss the idea of girls and young women pursuing STEM subjects since they are not naturally suited to IT careers. However, women in tech, like Barbara Liskov , Carla Meninsky and many others, would disagree.  

If anyone can forge a bold new course for women in technology, encouraging women to seek the same IT jobs as their male counterparts, it is the Girl Scouts.  

Make Your Workplace a Welcome Place for Talented Women in Technology 

As technology continues to stand at the forefront of modern business, it is important to make sure that you build a team based on abilities and talent, inviting women to share their insights, skills and education with your team.  

At ICS, we can help you find the right candidates for your IT positions by working with you to develop and sharpen your diversity strategies to build the strongest team possible. 

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