Women have “Gut”

October 28, 2015 Barrett Sellers

trust corkboard

In recent news, I have been especially pleased to see a breakthrough in the focus on women in cybersecurity. I have read much about how to increase the tenacity and confidence in young women at an early age so that they will excel academically in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) roles. While this is critical, there seems to be a missing element in how women in cybersecurity can help teams get to the next level and bridge gaps.

What is it? Intuition. That “gut” feeling. I have witnessed the power of the “gut” many times while in heated technical discussions.

Let’s set the stage: A team of 8 is gathered in a conference room discussing the challenges that surround an upcoming release. Of those 8, there are 7 men and 1 woman. Discussions are elevating and everyone is interjecting opinion. Whiteboards are filling up with scribble. They seem to be getting nowhere. But then the impervious gut of the woman in the room emerges and senses everyone is actually agreeing but they are too close to the discussion to take a step back and realize. The woman is able to sense where there are vulnerabilities and will begin interjecting with questions that bring the conversation back down to a reasonable level. Before you know it, with the use of intuition, knowledge and creativity, she has the team realizing that they are all in agreement and the direction changes to resolution.

This ability will not only create a healthy diversity within teams, but also in the detection of cyber threats. In the article Why women are crucial to the future of cybersecurity? by the National Cybersecurity Institute, Michelle Dennedy, a cybersecurity professional in Silicon Valley, is mentioned as stating in The Christian Science Monitor that a big part of cybersecurity is reliant on the ability to interpret human emotion and behavior. Dennedy believes that women are better suited for this aspect of the job than their male counterparts. They may be able to anticipate areas of vulnerability quicker and create more creative solutions than men in the same role.

This is only my “gut” feeling based on experience and many observations of how a woman’s intuition can get to the crux of the matter and create resolutions. It isn’t that intuition is unique to women, but perhaps women need to trust their gut more and actively look for these opportunities to push through and lead. My “gut” intuition started from the minute I graduated from university with a degree in English and a mind for technology and problem solving. On impulse, I applied for an entry-level technology position that combined my English skills and my technology skills. It was over my head but my “gut” told me to approach it with confidence and so I did. I landed the job! This lit an excitement in me that kept me trusting the intuition that still lead me to opportunities that put me in the company of some of the smartest people in the industry.

Ladies, trust the “gut” and go forth with confidence! Men, wake up! Do not be afraid to put a woman on your team and give validity to her intuition.

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