Girl Scouts Offers Merit Badges For Making Friends, Painting And Horseback Riding. Up Next: Cybersecurity

By Alexa D’Angelo
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In recent years the Girls Scouts has expanded its merit badges beyond those associated with traditionally feminine skills, think “babysitter” or “dinner party”, to include more topics related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

LOS ANGELES

By selling Thin Mints and Tagalongs in kindergarten, Elizabeth Lewelling earned Girl Scout badges for customer service and managing money.

Now going into eighth grade, she’s setting her sights on a topic a bit more complicated than the cookie business: cybersecurity.

The 12-year-old from Palmdale is one of 1.8 million Girl Scouts nationwide who will have the opportunity starting in 2018 to adorn their vests, tunics and sashes with merit badges for information security.

The move illustrates the ongoing evolution of the 105-year-old activity organization for girls, which in recent years has expanded its merit badges beyond those associated with traditionally feminine skills, think “babysitter” or “dinner party”, to include more topics related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

It’s a shift Lewelling appreciates.

“I’ll definitely be trying to get cybersecurity badges,” Lewelling said. “I’m going into eighth grade now and we use technology for everything so I want to know how I can protect myself online. It’s really important.”

The 18 new badges, earned by mastering online safety, dealing with cyberbullies and coding, among other skills, are the result of a multiyear partnership between the national girls’ nonprofit and the Silicon Valley network and enterprise security company Palo Alto Networks.

Girl Scouts of the United States of America Chief Executive Sylvia Acevedo said the launch of the program shows the organization’s “advocacy for cyberpreparedness.”

They join an increasingly contemporary array of insignias (“computer expert,” “inventor,” “product designer” and “website designer” were all added in recent years), though the organization has not purged longstanding badges or themes.

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