(Source: Girl Scouts)
The Girl Scouts (GSUSA) pride themselves on being able to accomplish anything through learning and instruction. Like the Boy Scouts, these young ladies gain merit badges and awards for performing or being proficient in specific tasks, such as first aid, community service and even philanthropy (among a host of others). They can now add the STEM fields to that ever-growing badge list, through the organization’s first computer science program and Cyber Challenge for middle and high school girls, which is being sponsored by Raytheon.
The new program is designed to prepare the students for careers in areas such as cybersecurity, robotics, artificial intelligence and data science. Back in 2012, the Girl Scouts Research Institute fielded a STEM survey and found that an incredible 74% of teen girls are interested in the respective sciences but that interest fades during middle and high school as their exposure to those fields doesn’t inform or support their career decisions during those years.
Insert YouTube video here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_QNc6uYnss
The goal of the new program is to get those students interested in the STEM fields and provide them more confidence to maintain that interest when considering a career. According to Raytheon CEO Thomas Kennedy, “At a time when technology is transforming the way we live and work, we can - and should - show young women a clear path to taking an active role in this transformation. Working together, Raytheon and Girl Scouts will help girls build confidence to see themselves as the robotics engineers, data scientists and cybersecurity professionals who will create a better tomorrow.” He also stated the diversification of the STEM workforce needs to be accelerated and he’s right, according to a 2009 Census Bureau report- women comprise 48% of the US workforce, and only 24% of them work in STEM-related jobs.
The other part of the Girl Scouts program- Raytheon’s Cyber Challenge, will see partners team up to pit their coding skills against one another, which will be held in 2019, a year after the pilot program is introduced in select cities next year. This isn’t the Girl Scouts first foray into the computer sciences as the organization teamed up last year (2016) with Netflix to promote ‘Helping Girls Become STEM Superstars’- another program to help scouts become interested in the sciences. Additionally, earlier this year the GSUSA introduced new badges for cybersecurity, robotics, and computer science, further enticing young girls to enter into those fields for increased diversity.