UK agencies called on to seek female spies
WASHINGTON - ReutersBritish lawmakers say the country’s intelligence agencies, which inspired James Bond, are not doing enough to promote real-life Jane Bonds.
A report on women in the intelligence services says female staff are being held back by a layer of middle managers, dubbed “the permafrost,” who have “a very traditional male mentality and outlook.”
The report published yesterday by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee said that women make up 37 percent of the workforce at domestic spy service MI5, overseas intelligence agency MI6 and electronic eavesdropping center GCHQ. But women account for only 19 percent of senior staff.
The lawmakers said the agencies should cast a wider net to recruit middle-aged women and mothers, who had “valuable life experience.”
It said agencies in which all staff “are cut from the same cloth” could lead to unacknowledged biases that hampered the work of espionage.
They suggested the agencies target women with children through the popular online forum Mumsnet.
The report also expressed concern that women with children were shunted into roles in human resources or finance, rather than running overseas stations or meeting agents in the field.
British intelligence agencies were long male-dominated, and their popular image was forged through depictions of rumpled men in smoke-filled rooms in the novels of John Le Carre, and the macho derring-do of Ian Fleming’s James Bond.