At a time when women account for half of the college-educated workforce but constitute just 29 percent of the workforce in science and engineering occupations, Raytheon and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) are collaborating on a new initiative to fuel the pipeline of female leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Through a multiyear commitment from Raytheon, GSUSA launched its first national computer science program for middle and high school girls, and piloted its first-ever national Cyber Challenge for middle school and high school girls. These initiatives have the potential to reach nearly half a million girls in grades 6–12, many of them from military families, and they aim to prepare more girls to pursue computer science careers, including in cybersecurity, robotics, data science, and artificial intelligence.
This is the right action at the right time with the right partners. For example, the majority of millennial women say they would’ve been more interested in a cybersecurity career if they’d had access to more information about and training in STEM during middle and high school, according to a 2017 survey commissioned by Raytheon, Forcepoint, and the National Cyber Security Alliance. In addition, findings from the Girl Scout Research Institute’s How Girl Scout STEM Programs Benefit Girls (2016) (PDF) reveal that girls who participate in Girl Scout STEM programs are significantly more interested in pursuing a STEM career upon program completion than they are prior to starting such a program.
The initial phase of the computer science program ran as a pilot in select geographies in early 2018, with national implementation beginning in fall 2018, and the Cyber Challenge was piloted in October 2019 at 10 councils, with national rollout planned for 2020. During the event, girls participated in a series of adrenaline-filled challenges to address a fictional ransomware attack on the moon. The girls worked in teams alongside volunteers from Raytheon, local universities, and other organizations, applying methods in fields ranging from cryptography to forensics to encryption. The event helped girls see themselves as potential science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals who could one day close the gender gap between men and women who work in these fields.
Raytheon Company, with 2018 sales of $27 billion and 67,000 employees, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity solutions. With a history of innovation spanning 97 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration, C5I ® products and services, sensing, effects, and mission support for customers in more than 80 countries. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts. Follow us on Twitter.