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Girl Guides team up with BlackBerry on new badge

Completing a series of activities will help girls get their digital defenders badge (BlackBerry)

Girl Guides of Canada is teaming up with BlackBerry (BB.TO) (BB) to get more girls into the field of cybersecurity.

That includes all levels: Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, and Rangers.

For example, girls as young as 5 will learn the basics by making bracelets out of binary code. Older Girl Guides will have to fix a corrupted website to go on a camping trip and use their tech skills to get out of an escape room.

Completing a series of tasks will help the girls earn their digital defenders badge, which will feature BlackBerry’s logo — given the expertise the company provides.

Jill Zelmanovits, CEO of Girl Guides Canada, said BlackBerry was a natural fit.

“We want to offer the best that we can to our girls, and in this case, the best was BlackBerry, so we're very happy,” she told Yahoo Finance Canada.

Zelmanovits says it’s the first such partnership and is open to more in the future.

She says girls as young as 11 perceive gender inequality, so it’s important to address it early. She also says Girl Guides is often the first exposure to a future career, so early education can help steer the girls toward careers in cybersecurity.

Sarah Tatsis, VP of BlackBerry’s Advanced Tech Dev Labs, says the program will serve as a way to fill cybersecurity’s talent gap.

“If we can get more people — and I mean half the population is more people —  interested in cybersecurity roles, then hopefully they’ll come back and actually enter the workforce into those roles,” Zelmantovits told Yahoo Finance Canada.

Girl Guides Canada currently has 75,000 members and 7 million alumni.

Ready to get cracking

A number of Girl Guides, like Ranger Olivia Tietz, are excited to get involved with the program.

“I think that there is a lot of gender inequality, especially in the STEM fields, and it's great that Girl Guides is really exploring this and trying to make a difference,” she told Yahoo Finance Canada.

Ranger Meghan McClurg is also keen to get involved. She says she first noticed gender inequality in grade 5.

“My teacher asked us to help her move out of our classroom at the end of the year, but she only asked for boys,” she told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“I was like, why can't I help? I'm probably more organized and could do just as good a job as them even though I can't carry the big boxes of books.”

McClurg says she’s seeing a similar scenario regularly playing out on social media.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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