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Female students get some national security career insight

Lauren Buitta, founder and CEO of Girl Security, shared some good advice and interesting insights with Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart students Jan. 25 during the second installment of the Lake Forest all-girls college-prep high school’s 2021-22 “Imagine Yourself in the C-Suite” series. Girl Security is an organization dedicated to preparing girls, women and gender minorities for national security careers through equity-informed learning, transitional high school-to-college training and relationship-based mentoring.

Buitta’s presentation was the latest in a speaker series launched a few years ago aimed at exposing Woodlands Academy students to fields they many never have considered. Each program features a female leader detailing her unique path in hopes of inspiring students to follow their own path to career success.

During the first portion of her presentation, Buitta was interviewed by senior Scarlett Montalvo, of Waukegan. This was followed by questions from students viewing the virtual presentation at various locations in the school.

According to Buitta, females have long been under-represented in national security, one of the largest fields of employment in the United States. Recent studies cited by Girl Security show women make up less than 40 percent of the US State Department’s leadership and only 26 percent at the Pentagon. The private sector figures are even bleaker. Women comprise just 24 percent of the cybersecurity workforce and only 21 percent of the supply chain management workforce.

The pathways to a career in the inter-disciplinary field of national security can include the military, the intelligence community and global health. To prepare, Buitta suggests some undergraduate language, regional history, political science, economics and anthropology courses, among others.

“National security is a powerful political realm,” Buitta said. “Decisions made can shape the course of history. Especially now, we need as many diverse voices as possible shaping the future of the discourse about democracy and the role of the US in a global community.”


Asked about the one thing she’d have done differently along her career path, Buitta replied, “I wish I would have advocated for myself more, believed in myself more – especially upon entering a male-dominated workforce.”

Her advice to students interested in keeping up with national security issues, but maybe not as a career, “Read as many diverse news sources as possible. Read everything from publications you agree with to those that make you really angry because it’s important to understand peoples ‘ perspectives.”

Woodlands Academy’s “Imagine Yourself in the C-Suite” speaker series invites highly accomplished individuals to be interviewed by Woodlands Academy students in order to learn from their experiences and then begin imagining themselves in leadership positions. The series typically includes one public forum open to girls from other schools in and around Lake Forest.

Founded in 1858, Woodlands Academy is an independent Catholic college preparatory day and boarding high school for young women. It’s part of a worldwide network of Sacred Heart Schools that spans the United States and 40 other countries. A nonprofit, Woodlands Academy’s identity is rooted in Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat’s desire to inspire young hearts and minds to excel, to lead lives of integrity and to serve. For more information about Woodlands Academy, please visit www.woodlandsacademy.org



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