The Important Role of Female Security Officers in Schools
Female security officers have different experiences and perspectives, which allow them to see safety and security needs from a different angle.
School security has never been more of a pressing issue than it is today. Nothing is more important than maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment for students. However, figuring out the best way to ensure student safety isn’t always easy. No solution is perfect, but it’s important to keep improving and upgrading approaches to minimize safety issues as much as possible.
One way to help improve the safety of school campuses is to bring on more female security officers. Although adding diversity might seem like an insignificant change, it can actually make a big difference in both safety and school culture.
Gender Diversity in the Security Industry
There has been a push over the last few decades to improve gender diversity in a variety of industries, including technology, engineering, and science fields. However, gender diversity is still minimal in industries such as construction and security.
This lack of diversity limits the growth of the industry and reduces new ideas and approaches that could improve best practices in the field. Underrepresentation will continue to be a problem until those within the industry see the important contributions women can make in security and law enforcement.
Female security officers have different experiences and perspectives, which allow them to see security needs from a different, important angle. Representation also sends a powerful, positive message to students and staff members about the role of diversity in all roles and contexts.
School Security Officer Responsibilities
School security officers have several important responsibilities. Their most obvious role, of course, is monitoring the campus for potential safety issues. They might do this in person or by monitoring surveillance equipment such as security cameras.
A security officer needs to be able to distinguish what is a real threat and what isn’t. In an emergency, security officers should be trained to respond appropriately, by keeping students safe and evacuating campus buildings if necessary, calling emergency services, and working with other school staff members to help protect students.
Security officers are also tasked with helping to monitor and control access to different areas of the campus and with enforcing school rules and policies. Building strong relationships with staff and students is important as everyone who belongs on campus needs to feel comfortable going to a security officer for help.
The Role of Female Security Officers in Schools
Female security officers are an excellent addition to any campus security team. First of all, they contribute much-needed diversity and help make the security staff more representative of the student and staff population. Seeing women in these roles of authority can help female students feel secure and safe on campus.
Gender-based violence and harassment are major problems on many campuses across the United States. Because of their personal perspective and experience, female security officers are more likely to identify signs of gender-based incidents when they see them. Additionally, many female students and staff don’t feel comfortable reporting these incidents to a male security officer.
Female security officers are also likely to have a different approach to conflict resolution than their male colleagues. Women are less likely to approach an issue with initial aggression than men and are often skilled in problem-solving through a diplomatic lens that focuses on communication.
As a bonus, female security officers can help ensure safety in situations men cannot. They can respond to incidents in women-only spaces and perform physical searches for female attendees at large events. This can help make campuses safer for everyone.
Creating Safe and Inclusive School Environments
Representation is important when it comes to creating safe and inclusive school environments. A staff that is made up entirely of men might seem more intimidating — but it’s also intimidating for the students and staff who are on campus every day. Besides, intimidation is a very small portion of what security officers do on campus to keep everyone safe.
Diverse security teams can help improve students’ perceptions of safety. These teams are more likely to build trust among the student body as well since they are more representative of student experiences and can empathize with a range of concerns that students might have on campus.
Feeling safe on campus is important. However, there’s a lot more to creating that feeling than hiring some burly men to control physical access. It’s also about creating an inclusive culture where all students feel safe and know their concerns will be treated with respect.
Potential Challenges Involved in Increasing Gender Diversity
One of the biggest challenges of hiring a more gender-diverse campus security team is the applicant pool. As the industry has been male-dominated for so long, there are fewer women interested in working as security officers. This can make it difficult to find qualified applicants.
Another issue that can come up is implicit bias in hiring. Even if there are qualified female candidates applying, staff in charge of the hiring process might have unconscious biases about what kind of person “should” be an officer.
Even once female officers are hired, issues can still come up. Some people are resistant to change and will be unwilling to accept someone “different” on the team. Sexism can be a huge problem in a male-dominated industry like security, which creates a toxic work environment that does not encourage female officers to stay in their jobs.
Three female campus security professionals share tips for recruiting and retaining female employees in security and law enforcement
Anticipating these challenges in advance is important. Creating clear policies for hiring and behavior when on the job will help create accountability and contribute to more successful diversity efforts. Long-term, these efforts will make for a better work environment and a more successful security team.
Female Security Officers Contribute to a Well-Rounded Security Team
Security officers might play several different roles on any given day. They might help a freshman find their first class. They might peaceably prevent someone from entering the student center who shouldn’t be there. They might notice and interrupt harassment that is taking place and report it.
Having a diverse team of officers, including female officers, will help ensure that all of these responsibilities and needs are met. When it comes to on-campus security, a well-rounded team can make all the difference. School administrators would do well to prioritize diversity when hiring and slowly build a team that can do it all.
Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education.
Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety.
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