Girl Scout IT Event

Local Girl Scouts Earn Cybersecurity Badge at Blue Cross Event

The Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan are changing the stigma limiting female career paths. Using the acronym “Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-tasker and Leader,” GSSEM is working to make these all qualities that young girls embody when growing up in today’s society. And recently, information technology employees at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan were able to help do just that.

The IT Diversity Employee Committee and POWER (Professional Optimistic Women Exploring Resources) Employee Resource Network worked with the Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan to host a CyberGIRL event. The event aimed to influence the girls and help build an understanding of their opportunities in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) world.

Fifty Blue Cross volunteers came together to teach the more than 100 middle school and high school girls about IT and cybersecurity best practices. Deena Reed, a data services business analyst and former troop leader, was the mastermind behind this event. She had support from Blue Cross’ POWER ERN leadership team member, Vaneitta Goines.

The girls who attended were exposed to a wide variety of different IT and cybersecurity activities to give a hands-on experience with STEM fields of work. Some of the topics covered by Information Security and other BCBSM IT professionals were:

• Safeguarding one’s online identity
• Thwarting cyber attacks
• Security challenges using public WIFI
• Choosing strong and secure passwords
• Recognizing social engineering

Scanning QR codes to see what kind of information can be gleaned from them, evaluating metadata found in online photos and testing password strength are just a handful of the activities put on through the event to give the girls a glimpse of the STEM field. The event also required the girls to complete a final project piece showcasing what they had learned in the STEM skill-strengthening event. Some of the Girl Scouts had to physically move their team through a map of “cyber-minefields” using the knowledge they gained throughout the badge training on responding to cyberthreats. Others in attendance walked through a role play of a cyber-attack on a large city system.

Angela Williams, director, Enterprise Information Security at Blue Cross, informed the girls on the importance of learning and her own personal experience as a woman in the STEM field. Williams’ fiscal sponsorship, guidance, expertise in information security and passion for inspiring these young girls to pursue STEM made her a key player in making the event a success.

Thanks to the support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and its employee volunteers, more than 100 local Girl Scouts now have a badge to show their dedication to becoming the next generation of female STEM leaders.

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