My memories from my time in Girl Scouts consist of sorting milk caps with no mild level of disdain and sending my cookie sign-up sheet with my dad to work because I was far too introverted to sell anything door-to-door. (Not everyone was a model girl scout.)
Now, the Girl Scouts are looking to make the organization both more meaningful and more progressive, adding badges for coding to the array of campfire-building, cookie-selling, milk cap-sorting options.
Girl Scouts has partnered with security company Palo Alto Networks to modernize their training programs, Refinery29 reports, creating a national cybersecurity badge for girls in grades K-12.
“Led by a panel of expert cybersecurity advisers, GSUSA and Palo Alto Networks expect to roll out the first in a series of 18 Cybersecurity badges to Girl Scouts throughout the United States in September 2018,” the Girl Scouts said in a statement.
The organization also notes the “worldwide deficit of qualified cybersecurity professionals,” emphasizing that women especially hold only 11 percent of cybersecurity jobs globally and 69 percent of women who have not pursued careers in IT attribute their choice to “not knowing what opportunities are available to them.”
“This national effort is a huge step toward eliminating traditional barriers to industry access,” the statement continues “such as gender and geography, and will target girls as young as five years old, helping to ensure that even the youngest girls have a foundation primed for future life and career success.”
It’s powerful that the Girl Scouts are choosing to commit to STEM and to work to educate girls on many of the opportunities often closed off to them by their gender or by lack of awareness. Teaching girls from the age of five that they can code and do other activities could have an enormous impact on the number of women in STEM fields, having such far-reaching consequences as working to close the gender pay gap, increasing representation in male-dominated careers, and teaching girls that they are every bit as powerful and smart as boys.