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Are women shaping the security industry? The security industry has historically had a very macho, male dominated persona. But things have changed and it’s clear that now, security is seen and is in fact, far more than just “guards and gates”. A more holistic approach to
female security

Are women shaping the security industry?

February 18, 2021

The security industry has historically had a very macho, male dominated persona. But things have changed and it’s clear that now, security is seen and is in fact, far more than just “guards and gates”.

A more holistic approach to the role of a security operative has been developed with soft skills such as communication, planning, risk management and intelligence playing just as vital a role as the deterrent factor.

The security sector has welcomed and adapted to the change of gender dynamics – but was it the chicken or the egg? Did the industry adapt by itself, opening its doors to women and encouraging diversity through the use of incentives, or did those women who bravely entered the industry when it was still considered “a man’s job” actually pave the way and shape how the industry would develop going forward?

An article written in 2020 by Security Magazine, “Security Leadership: Women on the Frontline | 2020-07-01 | Security Magazine” interviewed 13 female execs working in the security industry who it quoted “are bound by the same passion: to serve, protect and facilitate public or private safety and security” – a mindset identical to their male counterparts.

With women now fulfilling senior positions within the industry we are one step further towards eradicating gender bias associated with security roles.

Challenging stereotypes

What do you think of when you think of “security?” The first image people tend to associate security with is male, uniformed, radio earpiece, high vis… are we wrong? Those in security more often than not think their career options are frontline worker, team leader, manager, business owner.

In 2021 - this could not be further from the truth.

The security industry has evolved, security is an inclusive service that requires a range of attributes such as customer service, commercial acumen, risk management, negotiation, planning, critical thinking, etc. It requires diverse teams and utilises an array of soft skills alongside technical skills.

Women, will on most accounts, never be able to challenge the physical strength of men. Nonetheless women found a way to not only be adequate security guards – but to excel in their positions utilising alternative methods. Adapt and survive some will call it. Or was it much more than that – did women inadvertently change the “security” landscape?

There are particular attributes that women possess naturally over men – and what we have found is that these innate features can offer an advantage.

Security is more than just physical protection. There is an emotional side to it. Think about it, you are responsible for people. People are emotional beings and often behaviour can be explained and measures put in place to prevent certain risk if such behaviours are properly recognised and managed.

You now see women at the frontline as well as in management and at operational and strategic levels. We also see men that do not fit the stereotype of 6ft2, ex-military with a martial arts background and a physique to deter a hoard of football hooligans, successfully carving out roles on both the frontline and within management. This is because soft skills, qualifications and learnt technical capabilities are far more important than brute force (or the appearance of) alone.

We must acknowledge that people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds are now working in our industry. And this diversity will be the key to our growth and success as service providers to businesses and our wider communities.

The impact of women in “non traditional” security roles

Let’s go back to the question we asked at the beginning, what is security and how are women impacting the growth of this sector?

Women have been influential to security and defense for many years now, often within fields you would not typically associate with traditional “security”.

Women throughout our history have played a vital role when it comes to governance and safety. As an example, aid work and peace corps set up by international organisations have often specifically targeted local women within communities, to work with them on projects to improve local and even national security across countries dealing with political instability.

In 2012, armed conflict took place between terrorist groups and armed forces in Mali which had devastating consequences for local women and children who ultimately became subject to sexual violence. Peace corps turned to local women to understand the actual issues and worked with them to devise security strategies to prevent sexual violence and to keep women and children within local areas safe.

With their local knowledge, their very real experiences of the threats and their position within the communities they were able to utilise their voice to change narratives and rights for women and children in the country. The impact was so strong, that these women became involved with the drafting and dissemination of the Malian National Reconciliation Charter which now addresses gender equality.

A 2019 article, released by Psychreg also looked at the role of women in security, emphasizing that “women are good at relating to others through empathy [which helps] with disputes and tension.” This skill is one that helps in all avenues of security, from frontline door security dealing with an over intoxicated patron or a cyber-security agent dealing with a confidential hacking case and working one to one with victims. Emotional connection, empathetic understanding and patience are all required to properly carry out a security function, as opposed to just physical strength.

Regulation to improve inclusivity

When women enter a man's world they must adapt, and quickly. However, as we have seen throughout history you can only adapt so far before what you are actually doing, is conforming.

One could argue that the increasing entry of women into the industry helped encourage a move towards a more corporate approach in regard to more rigorous HR policies, more diverse training content and better reporting and monitoring processes.

As a minority it can be difficult to voice opinions or speak out if you feel uncomfortable – you end up just going with the flow and trying not to stand out for fear of being called too sensitive or not fit for purpose. As more women entered the industry support ultimately increased and a push for more inclusivity was made creating a better balance and working environment – which worked to encourage even more women (and probably men) into the industry.

We have all seen what happens when only one particular demographic leads a business or industry. One of the main problems is subconscious bias -- hiring people who are just like you and not recognising the lack of diversity within work settings. With an increase in women getting to management and senior level positions a new diverse approach to recruitment ultimately ensues – again widening the scope of “suitable” applicants and ultimately shaping the future of our industry.

What are your thoughts?

On a final note

This is a perspective we wished to explore. An approach we hoped would perhaps open up the eyes of any individuals who still to this day fail to understand or recognise the vital role women play in security. We of course acknowledge that both men and women have, and continue to, shape the security industry as we know it and we do not take away the incredible contributions both have and continue to make to our ever growing, ever developing industry.

If you are currently looking for work then please do get in touch for help around CV’s, cover letters and interviews. Send your CV to for a free review or book a CV package and get one of our expert team to write you a new professional CV.

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