Spy moms unite
Nada Bakos at work in Iraq
May 12th, 2012
08:18 AM ET

Spy moms unite

By Suzanne Kelly

Nada Bakos used to go work with a Glock strapped to her thigh. The former targeting officer for the CIA started her intelligence career as an analyst in 2000. But then September 11 happened.

"Everybody's life changed," said Nada Bakos, who, like many other women who were serving as analysts prior to 9/11, moved to the counterterrorism and eventually made the switch to the operations side, which meant she wasn't just analyzing the data on the bad guys, she was going after them.

She didn't yet have a family when she accepted her assignment as a targeting officer in Iraq, working alongside special forces in the hunt for the now-deceased terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. She won't share the details of exactly what she did to help find him, but she saw definite advantages to being a woman in the arena, noting that she sometimes had a very different experience than her male counterparts when it came to working within the norms of the culture.

"I got a completely different response than the men did," said Bakos, describing one particular effort to gather information. "How is a 26-year-old white male gonna walk up to a woman in the Middle East and say 'Hey, why don't you talk to me?' "

After a couple of years, Bakos realized that she knew more about Zarqawi than she did about many of the other men in her life. That, in part, was a wake up call to do something more:  She wanted to start a family.  But she was deep into her career on the operations side. That was a problem."The difference between men and women is that it's really hard for women to live the lifestyle of a case officer," said Bakos. "If you have a significant other, it's hard for you both to be employed. I was 37 then and I can't really say, 'Hey, let's interrupt your career and you can carve out what you need."

At least 160 other women feel her pain. Women from the CIA, the National Security Agency, Naval Office of Intelligence and dozens of other agencies met last week in a hotel conference room in McLean, Virginia, to try and find a better way.

The "women in national security" conference was sponsored by Working Mother Media. Carol Evans, president of that group, noted the unique environment in which these women compete.

"These women work in a very unusual industry," said Evans. "National Security is still a very heavily male industry and many of these women as they will say throughout the day, are oftentimes the first in their field to be a woman - the only person in the room who's a woman.  So when we bring women together in an industry like this, they just feed off of each other, they catch each other's energy, and they build relationships."

And relationship-building while navigating a career in intelligence and national security is key, according to Letitia Long, the only female director of any of the 16 intelligence agencies that make up the intelligence community in this country.

Long, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency spoke at the conference. She insists that work-life balance is something she has to work at every day.

"I'm passionate about what I do, so I often want to stay to do that last e-mail or sign that last memo, or ensure that I'm prepared for the next day.  But we do have to remind ourselves that if we are going to be at the top of our game, if we are going to be rested and ready to lead, we have to take that step away and ensure we are keeping that work life balance," Long said in an interview with Security Clearance.  "These are some of the stressful, some of the most stressful positions that are in the work force and if we are able to balance this, then perhaps there are some secrets that we can share with others so that they can balance also."

Long said that part of the stress is dealing with a culture at the agencies that needs to change.

At the agency Long heads, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, women make up about 31% of the workforce, and the attrition rate is slightly higher than that of men. As director of the Agency, Long feels that balance has to change if the country is going to build a stronger, more diverse, national security workforce.

"I do notice that women bring a different perspective when we're talking about the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and our core mission, of GEOINT, as men and women are looking at imagery, they see things differently," said Long.  "We all are a product of our background and our upbringing and women will just tend to notice different things in an image than men will.  Or if we're looking at pattern of activity, they might notice something that a man might not and vice versa.  A man will notice something that a woman will not, because they don't see it as important or they don't see it as relevant, yet something that's not relevant today, might be relevant tomorrow."

The Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, David Shedd, agrees. With women making up close to 35% of his employees, he sees the distintive advantages of finding a workforce more in balance when it comes to women.

"Women as a rule tend to have stronger intuitive skills and in the world of intelligence, where you are often dealing with less than perfect information, that intuitive nature is important," said Shedd. "Men tend to be more fact-based."

Shedd also offered advice to the women attending the conference. When a woman from the NSA stood up and told him that she personally struggles with how effective she is at her job because when she makes an unpopular decision, instead of being seen as a strong leader, she is referred to as a word that rhymes with 'witch,' he agreed that some misperceptions still exist.

"As a man, I can tell you when no women are around, men still say that type of woman, you used the 'witch' word, but the man, he's just strong-willed and strong-minded," said Shedd. "I am very familiar with that. Changing the culture is critical."

Shedd advocates for women in intel to build a strong team of mentors and then to call on them often and to set clear goals, not being afraid to show their ambition in finding what comes next in their careers.

Bakos, the former spy mom with the Glock, is on that path now. She retired from the Agency  and is looking for consulting work.

She still feels like she has much to offer. "I think there has to be a better way," said Bakos, who advocates for changing the culture within the intelligence community, to help allow women to live both lives.

soundoff (1,419 Responses)
  1. Content Marketing Pictures

    I seriously love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you develop this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my own blog and would love to learn where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Thank you!


    May 11, 2021 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  2. basketball betting

    Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
    There's a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Many thanks

    May 11, 2021 at 9:44 am | Reply
  3. satellite

    What i do not understood is if truth be told how you are not actually much
    more neatly-preferred tha you might be right now. You are
    very intelligent. You already know therefore
    significantly on the subject of this topic, produced me for my part beliieve it from
    a lot of various angles. Its like women and men don't
    seem to be fascinated except it's oone thing tto do with Lady gaga!
    Your individual stuffs outstanding. Always handle it up!

    May 11, 2021 at 9:37 am | Reply
  4. data togel china

    Hi there mates, pleasant post and good urging commented here,
    I am in fact enjoying by these.

    my web blog: data togel china

    May 11, 2021 at 8:49 am | Reply
  5. Internet Marketing Firm Near Me


    May 11, 2021 at 7:20 am | Reply
  6. Video Marketing Firms

    I was extremely pleased to uncover this site. I want to to thank you for ones time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and i also have you book-marked to check out new stuff in your site.


    May 11, 2021 at 7:02 am | Reply
  7. ituPoker Agen DominoKiuKiu Mobile Android iOS

    hey there and thank you for your info – I have definitely picked up something new from right here.
    I did however expertise some technical issues using this web
    site, since I experienced to reload the website lots of times previous to I
    could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering
    if your web hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times
    will very frequently affect your placement in google and could damage your quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Anyway I am adding this RSS to my email and can look out for much more of your respective interesting content.

    Ensure that you update this again very soon.

    May 11, 2021 at 6:44 am | Reply
  8. judi bola

    Appreciating the commitment you put into your
    website and in depth information you provide. It's great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the
    same old rehashed information. Great read! I've saved your site and I'm adding your RSS
    feeds to my Google account.

    May 11, 2021 at 6:38 am | Reply
  9. Internet Marketing Studio

    I truly love your site.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you build this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m trying to create my very own blog and would love to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Kudos!


    May 11, 2021 at 4:27 am | Reply
  10. Video Marketing Agencies


    May 11, 2021 at 3:51 am | Reply
  11. Social Media Marketing Help Near Me


    May 10, 2021 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  12. Content Marketing Agency


    May 10, 2021 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  13. WillieWet

    цена такси https://xn--80aqf2ac.taxi/

    May 10, 2021 at 6:39 am | Reply
  14. Internet Marketing Agencies

    Howdy, I do think your web site may be having internet browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, fantastic blog!


    May 9, 2021 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  15. RV Windows Riverside

    I love it whenever people get together and share ideas. Great site, continue the good work!


    May 9, 2021 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  16. Content Marketing Boutique


    May 9, 2021 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  17. Content Marketing Management

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Many thanks!


    May 8, 2021 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  18. best rv service near me


    May 8, 2021 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  19. Local Marketing Events


    May 8, 2021 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  20. Google Marketing Specialists

    I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I will bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.


    May 8, 2021 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  21. Digital Marketing Orange County

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't fail me as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, but I truly thought you would probably have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you can fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.


    May 8, 2021 at 11:50 am | Reply
  22. JasonBeity

    Модная одежда ведущих брендов

    May 8, 2021 at 11:30 am | Reply
  23. RobertAmacy

    имена ,рифмы ,рифма к имени Максим

    May 8, 2021 at 8:26 am | Reply
  24. Content Marketing Consultant


    May 8, 2021 at 2:34 am | Reply
  25. Google Marketing Specialist

    I used to be able to find good advice from your blog articles.


    May 8, 2021 at 2:00 am | Reply
  26. Internet Marketing Job


    May 8, 2021 at 1:21 am | Reply
  27. travel trailers for sale in orange county ca


    May 7, 2021 at 11:55 pm | Reply
  28. Video Marketing Programs


    May 7, 2021 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  29. Google Marketing Companies

    Having read this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this information together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    May 7, 2021 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  30. rv remodel companies


    May 7, 2021 at 8:09 pm | Reply
  31. warehouse jobs near me

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Appreciate it!


    May 7, 2021 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  32. Kegs Near Me

    I used to be able to find good advice from your blog posts.


    May 7, 2021 at 9:06 am | Reply
  33. Forklift Tires California


    May 7, 2021 at 9:06 am | Reply
  34. aralen hydrochloride

    natural chloroquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloroquine phosphate cvs

    May 7, 2021 at 9:02 am | Reply
  35. orange county awnings


    May 7, 2021 at 6:54 am | Reply
  36. instant covid testing near me

    After going over a handful of the blog posts on your blog, I really like your technique of blogging. I added it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website as well and let me know what you think.


    May 7, 2021 at 4:28 am | Reply
  37. Forklift Maintenance Shop Los Angeles

    Your style is very unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this blog.


    May 6, 2021 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  38. Cider Company


    May 6, 2021 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  39. Forklift Extensions


    May 6, 2021 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  40. awnings orange county

    This site really has all of the information and facts I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 6, 2021 at 5:44 pm | Reply
  41. kfc near me


    May 6, 2021 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  42. lumber yard near me


    May 6, 2021 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  43. box truck liftgate repair


    May 6, 2021 at 7:57 am | Reply
  44. toyota truck repair


    May 6, 2021 at 6:57 am | Reply
  45. Optometrist Tempe Az


    May 5, 2021 at 11:31 pm | Reply
  46. storage units near me


    May 5, 2021 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  47. Karate Crofton MD

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.


    May 5, 2021 at 5:05 pm | Reply
  48. Airgun megastore

    very interesting , good job and thanks for sharing such a good blog.


    May 5, 2021 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  49. Optometric Near Me


    May 5, 2021 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  50. RV Supplies Orange County

    Good blog you have here.. It’s difficult to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    May 5, 2021 at 9:33 am | Reply
  51. Eye Dr Near Me


    May 5, 2021 at 6:23 am | Reply
  52. kenworth box truck

    I like reading through a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!


    May 5, 2021 at 3:15 am | Reply
  53. leadership memberships

    I absolutely love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m looking to create my own blog and want to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Thanks!


    May 5, 2021 at 12:22 am | Reply
  54. truck liftgate repair

    I really like it when folks get together and share views. Great website, stick with it!


    May 5, 2021 at 12:05 am | Reply
  55. Eye Exam Phoenix Az


    May 4, 2021 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  56. isuzu nqr


    May 4, 2021 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  57. aika private server english

    It’s difficult to find educated people on this subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 4, 2021 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  58. avana

    avana 50 mg avana tabs

    May 4, 2021 at 8:33 am | Reply
  59. 먹튀검증



    May 3, 2021 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  60. 카지노사이트



    May 3, 2021 at 6:57 pm | Reply
  61. 카지노사이트



    May 3, 2021 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  62. 먹튀검증



    May 3, 2021 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  63. male enhancement cvs pharmacy

    erectile clamp https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile

    May 2, 2021 at 2:40 am | Reply
  64. canadian customs pills vitamins

    canadian pharmacies ed pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills

    May 1, 2021 at 9:01 pm | Reply
  65. NigelGok

    Путешествуем по Крыму вместе, отдых на море в Крыму. Пляжи, экскурсии, путешествия и оздоровление. Море, солнце и пляж – где отдохнуть, что посмотреть в Крыму? Целебные озера, туристический и пляжный отдых на берегу моря, крымская кухня https://mytravelcrimea.ru/

    May 1, 2021 at 3:33 am | Reply
  66. priligy

    priligy 60 mg buy avanafil canada

    April 30, 2021 at 8:45 pm | Reply
  67. window cleaning denver

    Really very happy to say,your post is very interesting to read.I never stop myself to say something about it.You're doing a great job.Keep it up


    April 29, 2021 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  68. signature window cleaning

    Thanks for wonderful information I used to be in search of this info for my mission.


    April 29, 2021 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  69. signature window washing denver

    Fairly high-quality explanation. continue the good work


    April 29, 2021 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  70. Short-term cash loans

    Wow this blog is very nice!


    April 29, 2021 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  71. cialis viagra combination canadian pharmacy

    canadian generic cialis 20mg https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian pharmacy no perscription generic cialis

    April 29, 2021 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  72. homes for sale near my address


    April 27, 2021 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  73. Nick's Air Conditioning And Heating Orlando

    Thank You for your information


    April 27, 2021 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  74. AC Repair Apopka

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.


    April 27, 2021 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  75. Fake GMB

    Keep this going please, great job!


    April 27, 2021 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  76. Roofer Raleigh

    Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You're doing a great job Man,Keep it up.


    April 27, 2021 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  77. window washing denver

    Thanks for the information.


    April 26, 2021 at 7:29 am | Reply
  78. RockyHed

    Доставка алкоголя якутск

    April 26, 2021 at 12:21 am | Reply
  79. sildenafil mexico pharmacy

    sildenafil generic usa https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ canadian prices for sildenafil

    April 25, 2021 at 2:44 pm | Reply
  80. RV Cabinet Los Angeles


    April 25, 2021 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  81. orange county rv dealers


    April 25, 2021 at 11:56 am | Reply
  82. Wayneematt

    Coupon Banggood

    April 25, 2021 at 10:10 am | Reply
  83. Danielfreds


    April 25, 2021 at 8:04 am | Reply
  84. generic viagra order canada

    buy viagra from canada https://canadaviagrastore.com/ generic viagra shipping from canada

    April 25, 2021 at 5:16 am | Reply
  85. Private Proxy

    Does your site have a contact page? I'm having a tough time locating it but, I'd like to send you an e-mail. I've got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.


    April 24, 2021 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  86. Forklift Rental Orange County


    April 24, 2021 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  87. nearby house for sale


    April 24, 2021 at 9:14 am | Reply
  88. RV Camera Near Me

    It’s difficult to find educated people on this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    April 24, 2021 at 9:14 am | Reply
  89. canadian pharmacies ed pills

    canadian weight loss pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian weight loss pills

    April 23, 2021 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  90. injectable medication for erectile dysfunction

    bremelanotide vs alprostadil https://alprostadildrugs.com/ video of transurethral alprostadil admimistering

    April 23, 2021 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  91. window washing denver

    I really like this post


    April 21, 2021 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  92. Jamesrum

    лордфильм онлайн взрослые фильмы 18+

    April 19, 2021 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  93. JohnnyOweft


    April 19, 2021 at 8:40 am | Reply
  94. tadalafil

    tadalafil https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalis sx

    April 18, 2021 at 2:43 am | Reply
  95. cialis viagra combination canadian pharmacy

    cialis, sale, canadian pharm. https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian generic cialis 20mg

    April 17, 2021 at 6:31 am | Reply
  96. MatthewWoumn

    зрители на твич

    April 15, 2021 at 6:32 pm | Reply
  97. generic levitra vardenafil 20mg

    levitra vardenafil 40 mg https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil nortwest pharmacy

    April 15, 2021 at 11:42 am | Reply
  98. window cleaning denver CO

    Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You're doing a great job Man,Keep it up.


    April 15, 2021 at 11:15 am | Reply
  99. GeorgeLef

    Помощь в рефинансировании ипотеки

    April 15, 2021 at 10:47 am | Reply
  100. WalterAddet


    April 15, 2021 at 8:47 am | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Leave a Reply to RV Repair


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.