30 Mar 2016

Editor Introduction

Women in Security will be a focus at this year's ISC West in Las Vegas, including targeted conference sessions and the Women in Security Forum Breakfast on Friday, April 12. As a preview of the upcoming events, let's revisit an Expert Panel Roundtable on this subject. We asked: How is the role of women in the physical security market changing and expanding?

Kim Loy Vanderbilt Industries

The last seven to 10 years has been an encouraging time for women in security. There are more and more women holding executive-level roles in organizations and leading those companies to achieve success. As a woman who has held several positions over the past 25 years – including Advertising Manager, Executive Vice President and General Manager for a global business – I can see that opportunities for women have grown significantly in number and breadth of responsibility. In addition, there are more and more women entering the industry in junior-level positions and working their way up through the ranks. I think the future for women in security, and the credibility and respect for what they bring to the table, is recognized and embraced by a majority of organizations, particularly those that are innovative and forward-thinking.

Renae Leary Tyco International

The convergence of physical and cyber security is advancing quickly, which is helping to expand the role of women in physical security. More IT professionals have crossed over to the physical security systems world, and as a result, more women are engaging and operating in this space. In the past, requirements for a physical security manager often had a heavy focus on people with backgrounds in law enforcement or experience from government agencies, which were positions traditionally filled by men. As we continue to see the lines of physical and cybersecurity blur, there are more software and IT experts operating in the industry, which has helped to attract more women. As technology evolves and plays an increasingly integral role in security, we can expect to see the traditional silos break down further, creating more opportunities for women working in the industry with more influential roles than ever.

Increasing number of women in physical security are following the upward trend of more women in security in general. Everyone (men and women) recognizes the value of diversity of approach and thought process in the workplace. Having women in physical security infuses a different set of skills within the team. To support women, the ASIS International Women in Security Council offers two programs to its members. The mentoring program partners senior-level women with those starting out in the industry to provide guidance, coaching, and networking opportunities. The Lean In program consists of a personal board of directors to discuss ways to overcome challenges, and shares tools to strengthen skill-sets. In many ways women think, work, and act/react differently, which results in a stronger team. As we continue on this course, we will continue to see more females in the physical security industry. And it will be a win/win for all.

Breaking down barriers? I’ve never experienced the need to do that as a woman in the security industry for more than 20 years. One reason could be my specialization in the dealer/integrator market. While it too has been historically devoid of women, that’s definitely changing, but I was always treated as an equal by systems integrators and don’t have a single incident to recount where, as a woman, my role was diminished or taken lightly. However, today I do see more women in the security industry overall in a wide range of job titles – from executives to technicians and everything in between. As such, women have become an integral part of the security scene, providing valuable contributions to manufacturing and installing organizations and participating in national and local associations. Diversity is definitely making the security industry stronger.

I firmly believe you should employ the right professional for the job – gender shouldn’t be a consideration. Having said that, it is obvious that in the past there has been a disproportionate lack of women in the physical security sector. The reasons have been complicated (from a lack of encouragement or apathy in education right through to a degree of unwarranted chauvinism within the industry itself), but I believe that the situation has improved considerably in recent years. At TDSi we have female members of staff throughout our divisions, from key roles in product development and testing right through to equally vital roles in finance, marketing and customer support. Building and maintaining a diverse and skilled team makes any business robust and highly competitive in the market, which is essential for growth.

Editor Summary

A historical career path to the security field has been through male-dominated jobs such as law enforcement and the military. In fact, the security market, like many other business categories, at one time seemed like an “old boys’ club” – but not anymore. For many years now, women have made their impact known throughout the industry, and the numbers of successful women in security seem to increase every year.