Palo Alto Networks® (NYSE: PANW), the next-generation security company, and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) today announced that they will join forces to deliver the first-ever national Girl Scout Cybersecurity badges for girls in grades K–12. Girl Scout badges are insignia Girl Scouts earn and display on their uniforms to demonstrate their mastery of a given topic. 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.
According to the latest Cybersecurity Jobs Report by Cybersecurity Ventures, the worldwide deficit of qualified cybersecurity professionals will reach 3.5 million by 2021. A deficit of this magnitude can inhibit the industry’s ability to prevent cyber breaches, and the challenge is compounded by the growing frequency and sophistication of cyber-attacks. Getting ahead of tomorrow’s threats requires a larger, diverse and innovative team of problem solvers.
Yet, a study by (ISC)², Global Information Security Workforce Study: Women in Cybersecurity, shows that women remain vastly underrepresented in the cybersecurity industry, holding just 11 percent of jobs globally. Plus, according to research by the Computing Technology Industry Association, 69 percent of women who have not pursued careers in information technology attribute their choice to not knowing what opportunities are available to them.
With today’s announcement, Palo Alto Networks and GSUSA plan to introduce cybersecurity education to millions of girls across the United States through compelling programming designed to increase their interest and instill in them a valuable 21st century skillset. 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 new badges will deepen the existing commitment that Girl Scouts has made to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by using the organization’s unique, "fun with purpose" K–12 curriculum that inspires girls to embrace and celebrate scientific discovery in their lives at all ages.