Hacking a drone shouldn’t be easy. But it can be fun.
A group of middle- and high-school Girl Scouts ventured into the CODE Center, Raytheon’s futuristic U.S. cybersecurity range, to solve a fictional mystery: who stole the famous Girl Scout Cookie recipe? It was all in fun, but with a serious mission: to help Girl Scouts to better understand the fascinating challenges that come with a career in computer science.
“I’ve always had a love for computer science and cybersecurity, but it seemed too complex,” said Paige C., 16, a Girl Scout from Central Maryland. “Now that I know of the many different ways to be involved in cybersecurity, it’s really opened my eyes to a career in the field.”
Forty-three percent of men said they have met or spoken to a cybersecurity professional, but just 22 percent of women could say the same, according to a recent survey sponsored by Raytheon and Forcepoint in partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance. Raytheon is collaborating with Girl Scouts of the USA to expose more young women to careers in cyber and other STEM-related fields, with a new national computer science program created expressly for middle and high school girls.
“It is imperative to expose girls to role models in computer science, cybersecurity and the myriad of career opportunities in those fields,” said Lynelle McKay, GSUSA chief customer officer.
The program known as Think Like a Programmer Journey encourages girls to pursue careers in computer sciences such as cybersecurity, robotics, data science and artificial intelligence. Raytheon is sponsoring the multi-year program to help girls understand how to break big problems down into smaller ones, and to spot patterns and connections like engineers do. It will also include Girl Scouts’ first-ever Cyber Challenge, set to debut in 2019.
The goal is to give girls the chance to explore careers in STEM and raise their confidence level in and out of the classroom.
With as many as 1.8 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2022, there is another strong mission in play: to help feed the talent pipeline and encourage the next generation of female cyber defenders.