Girl Scouts will soon be ready to take over your IT department.
The organization is teaming up with Palo Alto Networks, an internet security company, to introduce a set of new badges to promote computer and internet literacy and cybersecurity. The initiative aims to foster educational programs across all ages of the Girl Scouts, with a major emphasis on providing access to girls who might otherwise never be exposed to the field.
The 18 new badges will be available to Girl Scouts across the US starting in September 2018.
The programs behind the badges will cover a wide range of cyber topics, according to CNN Tech. Younger girls will learn the basics of data privacy and online safety, while the older Scouts will be introduced to coding, the principles of firewalls, and even how to become a white hat hacker.
The new badges aren’t just an effort to give today’s Scouts a more well-rounded experience to go with their cookie sales and camping lessons — they’re an investment in the digital landscape of the future, which will need as many workers as it can get. While there is expected to be a deficit of 3.5 million jobs within cybersecurity field by 2021, a recent study by (ISC)² found that only 11 percent of its current professionals are women.
“Our mission to prevent cyberattacks and restore trust in the digital age is only achievable if we make meaningful investments not just in technology but also in people,” said Palo Alto Networks CEO Mark D. McLaughlin about the initiative in a press release. “Our collaboration with Girl Scouts of the USA to develop curriculum for the first-ever national Cybersecurity badges will positively influence the future of our industry by helping build tomorrow’s diverse and innovative team of problem solvers equipped to counter emerging cyberthreats.”
Some cyber-centric programs for Girl Scouts exist on the local level, like the Game Design badge offered to L.A. scouts, but the new initiative with Palo Alto Networks marks the first time badges like this will be available from the governing body of the organization, which will give even more girls across the country access to the education.