Women in Security: Holding Your Own in a Male-Dominated Industry

It’s safe to say that the security industry is a male-dominated industry.

Only 9% of qualified security officers are women, with 84% of female security officers stating they feel like the security sector is dominated by men. This, of course, is not unique to the security industry. It may be 2020, but sectors and professions are still unnecessarily gendered in the public consciousness, with security guarding definitely seen as ‘man’s work’.

Yet those who claim that men make better security officers due to physical characteristics such as strength and heights fundamentally misunderstand the complex role of a modern security operative. Indeed, the industry has evolved beyond brute strength, and qualities such as communication, empathy and industry knowledge are critical to the modern-day security sectors and highly valued by employers.

Old attitudes are persistent, however, with the security industry at times resembling an ‘old boys club’, where institutionalised sexism is the norm. Sadly, the statistics speak for themselves. According to a recent survey, 64% of female officers have experienced bullying, sexual harassment and gender-based violence whilst working in a security role. On top of these overt displays of discrimination, women in security often find themselves battling microaggressions and stereotyping on a more insidious level. Two thirds of women security officers stated that they have to prove their capability, while their male colleagues are automatically viewed as capable and that they have to work harder than their male peers to earn respect from clients, colleagues, management and the public.


Why Are Women Put off a Career in Security?

Some of the top reasons women choose not to pursue a career in security are:

  1. Security is a male-dominated industry
  2. Sexism is still prevalent in the sector
  3. Fears that gender will impede career progression
  4. The perception that security work is unsafe for women
  5. Lack of female role models, particularly in higher positions
  6. The belief that typical ‘female’ characteristics will be seen as inferior
  7. The misconception that men are stronger and therefore more able
  8. The idea the security work is incompatible with family life
  9. Evidence that female security staff face high levels of discrimination, sexual harassment, and bullying
  10. Perceived lack of opportunities for women within the industry


The Value Women Can Bring to the Security Industry

Despite the lack of women in the security industry, women security officers can bring added value to a company and to the security sector. Whilst female officers are qualified to the same standards as male security staff and can carry out traditional security services, there are certain unique advantages to hiring and deploying female security officers:


Women Security Officers for Female Spaces

There is a real need for women security officers on the ground.  Women make up 50% of the population and have their own unique security needs and female spaces that require female security. Women may feel uncomfortable and intimidated by male security guards entering female spaces such as bathrooms, dressing rooms and changing rooms. For areas such as this, and for things like pat downs and body searches, women security officers aren’t just preferred, but required. A female security presence can help women feel considerably more comfortable, with female security officers seen as less intimidating and more approachable to women, young people, and children.

While this may be a product of ingrained stereotypes, it can give women in security a competitive edge over their male counterparts, particularly when safeguarding vulnerable women and children. This is particularly relevant to women’s refuges, who provide a female-only space for women and children fleeing domestic abuse and male violence. In these spaces, an all-female security team is necessary for the comfort and mental wellbeing of female domestic abuse survivors, demonstrating the very real need for professional, female security guards to cater to women’s security needs and emotional and physical wellbeing.


Women Approach the Role Differently

While women are often considered unsuitable for security roles due to the sometimes-confrontational nature of security work, women security officers are often better at diffusing aggressive situations and stopping them from escalating into violence. While male security officers have the advantage of brute strength and intimidation when faced with confrontation, women security officers will often reach for problem solving and diplomacy to tackle conflict, which can result in a much less aggressive and confrontational outcome. Not to say that women security officers cannot be as equally tough as their male peers, but it’s exactly this perception of women that makes them able to diffuse potentially violent situations without resorting to physical measures, especially with male customers, who are much less likely to get confrontational with female security staff.


Varied Roles Require a Diverse Team

As we previously mentioned, the modern security industry is a lot more diverse than in days gone by, encompassing a wide and varied range of services, such as CCTV surveillance, corporate and concierge security and public sector security. Given the varied range of roles available in the industry, a diverse and versatile team can help a security company stay competitive and adaptable. Take concierge security, for example. While clubs and bars may be looking for a burly bloke to work the doors, office buildings and corporate clients may have different requirements and may prefer women security officers to carry out professional concierge security. Each business has its unique security requirements, and not every business will be looking for a more traditional security guard. Obviously, it’s great from an equal opportunities perspective when businesses hire female security operatives, but it also makes financial sense. Hiring a diverse range of security officers makes a security company considerably more versatile and adaptable for clients, allowing businesses to cater for a greater variety of business needs.


Churchill’s Women in Security

At Churchill Security, we aim to lead by example when it comes to supporting women in our industry. We’re proud that women are represented at every level of our company, whether that’s on-the-ground, at the office, and most importantly in senior management.  At Churchill Security, we’re committed to diversity and inclusion. We understand that a diverse team makes us stronger and offer strong career and development opportunities to nature all our staff, investing in our talent with training and mentoring.


We spoke to Churchill’s very own Emily Macaulay to get her thoughts on the matter.

“There is certainly a demand for more women in the security industry. As well as traditional security roles, there are some positions that only women can do- such as providing security in female spaces e.g. women’s refuges. Several of our clients specifically ask for female security officers, every organisation has different requirements and sometimes our female security officers fit those requirements better. The security sector has come a long way since I started out. Attitudes and demand for women in security have definitely changed for the better, and women can make a real career in the industry thanks to greater opportunities for progression and the versatile range of roles available in the modern security sector. The security sector is still very much a male-dominated industry but the perception that this is ‘men’s work’ needs to change. These days, there are plenty of roles and opportunities for women in security, whether that’s on the ground or at the office.”

Emily Macaulay, Head of Business Development


Churchill Support Services is a leading cross-industry security company supplying professional and comprehensive security solutions to organisations seeking expert Security Guards, CCTV & Event Security, Key Holding & Alarm Response, Mobile Patrols and Thermal Imaging & People Flow.

To find out more about how Churchill Support Services can protect your business, contact us today on 08082509519 or email enquiry@churchillgroup.com.

Andy Farley

Group Chief Operating Officer

Andy is an experienced operations and sales professional with over 20 years’ experience. As Churchill Support Services Operations Director, Andy is responsible for service delivery to new and existing clients throughout the UK, managing the 24 hour control room, the supervisory team and Operations Managers, and for driving efficiencies and best practice standards within the organisation.