Today, Girl Scouts of the USA and Raytheon are excited to announce they are launching GSUSA’s first national computer science program and Cyber Challenge for middle and high school girls. The program aims to prepare girls in grades 6-12 to pursue computer science careers in fields such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, robotics, and data science.
“The progress to diversify the STEM workforce needs to be accelerated,” said Raytheon Chairman and CEO Thomas A. 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.”
A long-time partner of many Girl Scout Councils, Raytheon is the inaugural sponsor of GSUSA’s computational thinking program that will create age-appropriate content and foundational science, technology, engineering and math experiences. This collaboration will specifically support the creation of new age-appropriate content and foundational STEM experiences for middle and high school girls through the “Think Like a Programmer” Journey, (currently only available to girls in grades K–5) and will be girl-led,– like all Girl Scout programming. Girls will learn key concepts of computer science and complete activities through which they problem solve with friends while building essential leadership skills. They will also have the opportunity to apply what they learn at Girl Scouts’ first-ever Cyber Challenge where girls will work collaboratively to apply their new coding skill
The Girl Scout Research Institute’s (GSRI’s) Generation STEM report found that 74 percent of teen girls are interested in STEM fields and subjects but their interest fades as they move through middle and high school. A large part of the decreased interest is because girls aren’t exposed to STEM in ways that speak to them and inspire their career ambition.
At a time when women account for half the college-educated workforce, but constitute only 29 percent of science and engineering occupations (NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2016), Raytheon and Girl Scouts are committed to filling the pipeline of female STEM leaders by introducing girls to related careers early on. Providing girls with engaging STEM programming and events including hands-on learning in computer science and cybersecurity, helps maintain their interest in these subjects during critical developmental years and supplements what girls are already learning in school. In the 2017 National Cyber Security Alliance’s (NCSA) Millennial Cyber Security Survey, the majority of Millennial women, said that more STEM information, classes, and training during middle and high school would have increased their interest in a cybersecurity career.
“We are excited to be working with Raytheon and tapping into its expertise in computer science and cybersecurity to develop this important new content for our middle and high school–age girls,” said Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of GSUSA. “Girl Scouts is a network of more than 60 million girls and women, and we serve girls from every residential zip code. We are the girl experts, and have been for 105 years. With Raytheon’s support, we will inspire millions of girls to explore STEM careers and realize their full potential.”
Phase one of the new national computer science program for middle and high school girls will be run as a pilot in select geographies in early 2018, with full nationwide implementation planned to begin in fall 2018. Select Girl Scout councils will pilot the Cyber Challenge in 2019.