At Jensen Hughes, we embrace the diversity of our team. Yet, it can be easy to overlook the contributions women have made to the security risk management industry. After all, it’s a historically male-dominated field. For example, according to a report from the nonprofit (ISC)², men outnumber women in cybersecurity three to one.
Fortunately, those numbers are changing for the better – and women have already made some of the most significant contributions in security. In honor of Women’s History Month, we want to raise awareness of the incredible role women have played and continue to play in protecting what matters.
The Woman Who Innovated Home Security
The home security system as we know it today was originally designed and patented by Marie Van Brittan Brown in 1966. Brown wasn’t a security professional. She was a nurse living in Queens, New York. As if being a nurse wasn’t enough, Brittan invented the home security system in response to her personal security risk. She and her husband, Albert Brown, worked odd hours, leaving their home unattended overnight in their neighborhood where the crime rate was high and police response was often delayed. So, Brown developed a closed-circuit television security system that is the basis for the two-way communication surveillance systems that exist today.
Though her patent was approved in 1969, Brown did not widely manufacturer the device as she had only planned to install it in her home. Still, she received recognition for her invention at the time. She received an award from the National Scientists Committee and was interviewed by The New York Times a few days after the patent was approved. Though rarely credited, her legacy lives on in homes and offices worldwide.
Brown demonstrates that innovation can exist anywhere and come from anyone. If you have a home security system, we hope you think about Brown every time to use it.
Gender Parity Can Lead to Better Security Outcomes
As the benefits of diversity and gender parity are more widely realized, the importance of women in security risk management is becoming increasingly clear. In fact, research from Gartner shows that gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperform gender-homogenous, less-inclusive teams by an average of 50 percent.
One of the most promising developments in the move towards more gender diversity in security risk management are gatherings like the Women in Security Conference, last hosted at the Microsoft headquarters. The goal of this event, and others like it, is to foster collaboration in support of women in leadership within the security industry. By sharing experiences and ideas, Women in Security is committed to providing support and assistance to women navigating the security industry.
Because of its roots in public safety (e.g., law enforcement, U.S. Secret Service, military), the security industry has long been dominated by men, but with groups like Women in Security, we hope to see more gender parity that will only strengthen the industry overall. At Jensen Hughes, I take pride in working with many talented female colleagues who bring a range of experience and knowledge to our projects.
Become a Part of the Solution
The entire industry has a responsibility to acknowledge and advance women in security. The following action steps are considered best practices for achieving this critical goal.
- Focus on bringing women into the recruitment funnel early by partnering with educational institutions to introduce young women to security and risk management professions.
- Implement mentoring and professional development programs for the women in your company. Encourage them to join security professional organizations that have a focus on gender diversity in the industry or groups where they can be the change agents to bring that focus foward.
- Build awareness of the importance of gender parity within your organization by sponsoring events or educational programs geared toward increasing awareness of the role that women play in security and the importance of gender diversity in the industry.
- Make sure the women in your organization have a voice and a seat at the table.
- Recognize and reward the value of diverse voices in servicing your clients and meeting organizational goals.
We can all play a part in raising awareness and driving gender diversity in the security industry – in Women’s History Month and every month after that. Women are here. We need to support their work and value.