Women in Power

Homeland security sees an influx of women entering male-dominated field

The homeland security profession originated as a response to the largest terrorist attack on American soil and has since expanded in scope, services and reach. Although men initially dominated the field, an increasing number of women are entering the security industry.

A Nation Responds: From Tragedy Comes Action

The United States’ bustling economy depends on a variety of transit systems for trade and travel. The nation boasts 12,000 miles of coastline, nearly 400

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airports with regular airline service and ports that handle more than 20,000 shipping containers daily. However, officials have questioned the security of U.S. borders, coastlines and airspace, citing the country’s susceptibility to domestic threats and terrorism due to its openness and interconnectedness. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 exposed this openness as one of the nation’s greatest vulnerabilities, and the tragedy left the country stunned.

Today’s post-9/11 society has responded to the attack on American soil with more sophisticated technologies and a targeted approach to security. After Sept. 11, the federal government merged 22 separate agencies to create the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and federal spending more than tripled from 2000 to 2004 to pay for the country’s vast homeland security efforts. Many states also strengthened their security resources, creating a demand for highly trained and educated homeland security professionals to help foster a safer society.

Sept. 11 exposed the United States’ vulnerability to terrorism, and Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 revealed the country’s frail infrastructures, including buildings, bridges and levees that could contribute to devastating disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an agency within the DHS, supports communities affected by natural disasters. FEMA professionals often respond first to disasters across the nation. They support and, in some cases, lead efforts to rebuild cities and help communities recover from disasters. FEMA agents focus on a mission to build, sustain and improve communities’ capabilities to prepare for, protect against, respond to and recover from all hazards. Many FEMA agents in New Orleans and surrounding coastal cities aided the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

Women Gain Ground in a Male-dominated Field

Emergency management has existed for decades. Formerly known as civil defense, the field included a variety of departments and agencies that protectedthe public’s interests.The U.S.government established the Department of Homeland Security in 2001 in response to the 9/11 attacks. However, the field of emergencymanagement has existed for decades. Formerly known as civil defense, the field included a variety of departments and agencies that protectedthe public’s interests.

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Although many people view homeland security as a male-dominated industry, women have long served an integral role in America’s security. The International Network for Women in Emergency Management (inWEM) recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of women in homeland security and emergency management and provided historical accounts of women in management roles within the defense field.

According to inWEM, women served in emergency management roles in World War II, when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt drafted the American Social Defense Organization document with the help of Florence Kerr, Assistant Administrator of the Work Projects Administration and Director of the Women’s and Professional Projects. This document structured the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), which coordinated volunteers to help protect the home front during the war. The First Lady became Assistant Director of the OCD in May 1941, making her the first woman in the homeland security field. Since then, women have continued to move to the top of the industry in key leadership roles.

Women in the emergency management field have created a united force that supports the efforts of women in the profession and encourages them to further grow and develop. The Women in Homeland Security organization was founded in March 2009 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The group now includes more than 1,200 public and private sector members and provides women in the field an outlet to learn more about the profession, career prospects and networking opportunities.

Finding Your Place in Emergency Management

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Today’s society lives with a heightened sense of security. The United States needs highly qualified, trained and educated professionals to serve in security roles at all levels of government. A Masters in Security Studies from Notre Dame College prepares students with the comprehensive knowledge and aptitudes they need in this complex field. The program offers courses on a variety of topics, including:

  • Homeland security
  • Intelligence analysis
  • Emergency management
  • Public health
  • Biodefense
  • Border security
  • Transportation security
  • Transnational threats

Notre Dame College offers the master’s degree program at an accelerated pace, and students can earn their degree in as few as 18 months. The hybrid learning format allows students to complete coursework at their own pace and provides on-site learning opportunities to collaborate with peers and instructors, network with industry leaders and visit local, state or federal agencies.

Students can also pursue a more focused learning approach to their graduate-level studies through one of four graduate certificates in security policy studies offered 100 percent online. The certificate programs provide a well-rounded education in areas of public, infrastructure and intelligence security. The four certificate programs include:

  • Biodefense, Science and Technology Security Analysis
  • Transnational Threat Analysis
  • Terrorism and Critical Infrastructure Analysis
  • Strategic Intelligence and Risk Assessment Analysis

Professionals who have an interest in security and law enforcement and a passion to make a positive, lasting impact on their community should enroll in this advanced degree program.

Notre Dame College (NDC) is your hometown higher education provider. With a broad range of career-focused, accredited degrees to choose from, NDC gets you where you want to go through education. And, adult learners benefit from our online degrees, which merge convenience and flexibility with the NDC academic tradition of excellence.