Unconscious Bias? A Case Story.... Maybe
The attached article is one of those articles that can apply to both the cyber security and legal fields. The lack of diversity and most importantly inclusion are weighing down both professions. Speaking as a woman and a minority, living in both worlds, I have had my share of challenges. And it doesn’t matter how solid my credentials are, how many awards or accolades, nor how many people that will tell you how great I am. There still seems to be a pause when what you see doesn’t quite match up with what your assumptions may be about what a highly technical and capable cyber security and privacy professional looks like.
Here is the story. Last week I did a talk entitled “The Geeks Have Dropped The Ball, Now The Attorneys Are Coming” at the Innotech Dallas Summit. You can see the pictures here! The premise of the talk was to discuss the intersection of cyber security and privacy laws and the importance of cyber security and legal professionals working more collaboratively to effectively protect the company. It was a great talk, I was not the only geek, but I was the only attorney in the room. Thereafter, I received a message, through social media, that said, and I quote “Hi Mary, always enjoy your posts. You might want to consider not using Geeks, its degrading, It degrades those who work in IT. Typically, very diligent folks trying to do the right thing. Just a thought.....”
I typically do not respond to things like this, because everyone has an opinion and social media allows for anyone to respond to anything. However, my first thought was, what makes this person assume I am not a geek, nor that I do not know what the word is referring too? Did they read my profile? Know my credentials? Was it because I am an attorney? Was it because I am a woman? Was it because I am a minority? What was it, that made my use of the word geek degrading? I do not know, will never know. But what I do recognize is this statement shows a bit of bias on its face. I am sure this person would deny it vehemently and probably say I took it the wrong way or being sensitive. But that begs the question, why did you feel compelled to “educate” me in the first place.
My point is even though it may not look the way you typically see it, there are highly technical and very capable women and minorities in both the cyber security and legal space! Get to know us better and we can tackle inclusion together.