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Kate Warne is an iconic historical figure in the detective and investigative field. Back in 1856, she walked into the Chicago office of the Pinkerton Detective Agency seeking a job opportunity. It was immediately thought that she was interested in a secretarial or office position. Instead, she was extremely proactive in making her case for the agency to hire their first woman detective. She was convincing enough to make that idea sound not as crazy as the initial shared opinion by the men in charge. Kate’s hiring opened the door for women in the investigative and security field, but although landing the job was impressive, it was only the very first step. She indelibly left her mark on the industry by being able to successfully put her vision into motion and achieve everything she enthusiastically expressed during that Chicago job interview. This roundtable article features three prominent women security experts with international positions.
Together, they will explore the scope of the role of women today with respect to Kate Warne, who single-handedly changed the landscape hundreds of years ago.
Ellen Lemire: Kate Warne – fantastic! She knew exactly what she was capable of and was willing to push it even further. Kate was willing to disguise as anything – even a man. She was a real investigator, and it is truly amazing to now work for a company that started out this way and really opened doors.
Tatiana Scatena do Valle: Some women who currently work out in the field are not from a law enforcement background. We don’t see much from police forces transitioning to a new position, or law enforcement retirees. Here in the South American region, most came from other areas of experience and expertise.
Ellen Lemire: There are a good number of female college students with their eye on an investigative or security career, and some come from a medical background which can be a plus out in the field. Resumes are very diverse, many from the military, National Guard, and a good number in the area where I started – as a lawyer and former prosecutor.
Ginger Happe: Military is a great background to come from, particularly because women have already experienced how to deal with a male-dominated culture there, and have gained invaluable skills. A woman who is well rounded, and who understands the psychology and business of relations will often flourish, and find her own success. It is definitely an advantage.
Ginger Happe: You have to earn it! Everyone sees you work, and evaluates how you work, and you gain respect once they realize that you can handle it. It also helps to know how to build good working relationships.
Ellen Lemire: Dealing with various personalities – you always need to be tactful. Women can’t take any flack – and have to be proactive. Women are each other’s biggest supporter, and know the benefits of working together with everyone. We have to maintain a no-nonsense professional approach at all times.
Ellen Lemire: There might be a perception that there are jobs that only men can do – so women need to educate clients on what a quality product can be. Realization is coming that this is true – push back is no longer effective – and any prejudice will not keep up with the world as it is now.
Tatiana Scatena do Valle: There are certainly challenges, including fitting in socially as well. Women are the minority in the security industry, but are steadily becoming an accepted high value addition.
Ginger Happe: Dealing with very sensitive information is one area. Women can do that very well. Another is that women are generally better at multi-tasking. I have a good example I experienced where a woman on the team really made a difference. There was a mass employment termination at a client’s site, and a particular employee became quite hostile during the process. Instead of a rough escort out of the building, a women team member just put her arm around the woman, talked to her with compassion and empathy, and was then able to peacefully achieve her exit from the premises. Women can be – when necessary – more comforting and gentler. I feel that a two person team – one man and one woman – can often be a plus.
Women in the security industry today are out in the field and in controlling strategic positions. Many work in armed executive protection, and are experts in active shooter situations. Just like Kate Warne from yesteryear, they are finding that careers as security professionals are both challenging and rewarding. They are also finding that there are open opportunities to succeed in any area, bringing expertise and innovation from their education, experience and previous private sector work into their work and assignments at top security agencies.Tweet