As part of our series on women in the security industry, three members of the Castor Vali team have provided their thoughts, and advice, on entering the workplace as a woman. They have specifically focused on the challenges and opportunities women face when they work in the security sector.
Keri Leicher – Head of Security Information Services
“Risk management, and particularly the field of security risk management, has long been viewed as a male-dominated given its preference for recruitment from the military. However, these perceptions and requirements are changing. There has been increased involvement of women within the industry over the last decade or so. Barriers to entry have been removed and women have demonstrated their value to this field. The nature of work has also evolved to open up recruitment to a wider audience with different skillsets.
Working within intelligence, or country risk specifically, opens up so many of these doors. Throughout my career, I have time and time again seen women excel within this field as senior analysts and top advisors. These roles focus on conducting extensive research, collating data, and cutting through the noise to communicate the key risks and alternative scenarios to clients. Numerous studies have shown that women remain highly adept in carrying out these analytical and leadership roles and responsibilities. In an age where we are bombarded with information but must base decisions on the available evidence, I believe that such roles continuously prove their worth and remain central to effective risk management. They are the foundation of the entire sector.”
“To all women starting out in any career, not just within the security sector, I would encourage them to be their authentic selves. There are going to be challenges along the way – some that will be more difficult to overcome than others – but don’t allow your voice to be drowned out. Speak up, not just within the workplace. Surround yourself with a network of female peers that you can lean on and share advice with. These networks will prove invaluable throughout your career.”
You can find out more about Keri in Trade Finance Global’s feature – Women in Trade 2021
Julie Vrignaud – Regional Risk Advisor
“Women are often viewed as victims of conflict and rarely as actors of ending conflict. This view masks our important role as leaders both during and post-conflict. Women may take on the role of combatants, providers for their families and participants in the peacemaking process. Yet during war and in its aftermath, women too often are excluded from conflict resolution activities.
Slowly private and public security institutions are becoming more feminised. Companies looking to accelerate this process are deconstructing some of the stubborn clichés about women. There is the perception that they have to be big, strong and authoritarian to impose themselves on the organisation in which they work, which therefore means women are beyond the field of consideration. The profession, in general, suffers from a relatively macho perception and the cybersecurity field especially as the domain of ‘nerds’. However, thanks to men and women working together for more equality, these perceptions are slowly being overcome.”
“My advice for women who want to venture into the security industry is to remain confident in your own abilities. Even when those abilities do not correspond to the traditional pattern of expression in the security field. If you are convinced that you have what it takes, give it a try. Don’t do what you are expected to do, do what you have to do as a player in the sector.”
Christine Njiriri – Senior Operations Officer
“The security industry is growing – this means a growth in career opportunities. Being a woman in the security industry is challenging because people assume that careers in security are for men. However, there is a growing trend for equality in the workplace which has extended to the security industry.
The opportunities for women in the security industry are growing as the sector diversifies, providing motivation for any woman who wants a career in the industry. For example, there are a growing number of security companies offering options for telecommunicating. Women have continually proven their ability to use effective communication to diffuse hostile environments and de-escalate situations.
There are a number of networking platforms, for example ASIS WIS(Women In Security), to support women in the industry.
Like any other industry rewards and challenges will always be there. Your mindset, confidence and vigilance are key factors to excelling in any career including the security industry.
As highlighted in the responses above, it is no coincidence that as the approach to women has changed in the military, it reflects in the approach to recruitment in industries that have traditionally been more popular with military service leavers.
At Castor Vali, we see a host of opportunities for women within all aspects of the sector as we do our part to dispel dated concepts of gender-focused roles. As an example, our Security Information Services is led by Keri Leicher. As our company mission statement states, we “provide intelligence-led, expeditionary security and risk management services”. Therefore, within Castor Vali, women involved in our intelligence capability are at the forefront of our service provision. They are the key enablers for operational delivery.