The Girls Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and Palo Alto Networks are joining forces to develop a series of 18 Cybersecurity merit badges.
GSUSA will form a cybersecurity advisory board with representatives from the security firm to help develop the curriculum with plans to launch the curriculum for the first badge in September 2018.
Once developed, the curriculum will be tested with troops across the country, but with a special focus on troops in areas not traditionally known to be “tech hubs,” where girls may not otherwise have cybersecurity resource, a GSUSA spokesperson told SC Media.
“The idea for cybersecurity badges came from our Girl Scouts,” the spokesperson said. “We surveyed the girls about what they wanted more of and they said STEM badges.”
The organization plans to use this and other STEM initiatives to supplement the girl's in-school education with hands-on learning.
“This national effort is a huge step toward eliminating traditional barriers to industry access, 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,” the spokesperson said.
As of now, no badges have been created. The partnership is an example of the private sector priming the pipeline to help get girls interested in cybersecurity and to close the gender gap in tech.
"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,” Palo Alto Networks Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark D. McLaughlin said 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."