WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Homeland Security and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) launched the 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge, a new initiative to encourage girls across the country to learn about cybersecurity and increase related awareness within their own communities, particularly around the growing threat of ransomware. Developed in partnership with CYBER.ORG and DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge will help develop the next generation of diverse cybersecurity talent and strengthen our Nation’s cybersecurity resilience.
“I am tremendously proud to partner with Girl Scouts of the USA to inspire girls to learn more about cybersecurity and become leaders in their communities,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “I hope the unique opportunity presented by the 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge will spark a life-long interest in the cutting-edge field of cybersecurity among girls across our Nation.”
“The 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge gives girls in every zip code across the country direct access to fun activities that will strengthen their skill and interest in cyber,” shared GSUSA’s Interim CEO Judith Batty. “Women hold only a quarter of cybersecurity jobs in the United States, yet we make up more than 47 percent of the workforce. GSUSA is continuously working to close this gender gap through programming that inspires girls in grades K-12 to explore their interest in a field that is so critical to the safety and security of our country. By combining Girl Scouts’ reach and girl-focused programming with expertise from DHS and CYBER.ORG, we will motivate a new generation of girls to become confident cybersecurity leaders.”
“We are thrilled to partner with the Department of Homeland Security and Girl Scouts to launch the Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge,” said Kevin Nolten, Director of Academic Outreach at CYBER.ORG. “This initiative is critical to introducing more girls to cybersecurity and helping grow a more diverse cybersecurity talent pipeline. This effort is key to promoting student cybersecurity literacy and ensuring that girls can explore the possibility of cybersecurity careers.”
In March, Secretary Mayorkas and GSUSA’s Interim CEO Judith Batty discussed the importance of developing the next generation of diverse talent to tackle the monumental cybersecurity challenges facing our Nation. During this conversation, Secretary Mayorkas and Ms. Batty announced that DHS and Girl Scouts would partner on these efforts. The 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge builds on this commitment.
The 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge will provide girls in grades 6-12 with opportunities to learn more about cybersecurity, practice key concepts, and demonstrate the knowledge and skills they develop during this program. At the end of the Challenge, participants will be encouraged to publish an article about ransomware to raise cybersecurity awareness in their respective communities. Participants who complete the Challenge will receive a certificate of achievement and an invitation to attend a capstone virtual event hosted by DHS during Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October. Both Girl Scouts and non-members are welcome to participate and encouraged to learn more by visiting girlscouts.org/cyberawareness.
The 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge is part of the Secretary’s 60-Day Cybersecurity Sprints, which were announced in March. During the recently completed Cybersecurity Workforce Sprint, DHS achieved the largest and most successful cybersecurity hiring initiative in the Department’s history, hiring nearly 300 new cybersecurity professionals and extending an additional 500 tentative job offers. The previous sprint focused on elevating the Department’s efforts to help prevent and protect against ransomware across the United States.