Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Russian and East European Studies
This thesis serves to analyze the evolution of women in the intelligence community arguing that the role of women has transformed from one of a sexual nature into one of strong leadership. Early sources portray the female spy as a sexual object using her body to covertly gather intelligence through the disguise of a stereotypical woman. Women hid behind their socially accepted roles as housewives or nurses. Using a mix of primary and secondary sources including the declassified CIA Typist to Trailblazer document collection as well as sources of spy fiction this thesis identifies the factors that inhibited the advancement of women in the intelligence community. Following the creation of the CIA women comprised eighty-six percent of the clerical work force but very few women filled professional roles. As traditional gender norms gave way to discussions of women's equality new opportunities for women were created. Gender stereotypes lack of education and lack of military training had inhibited women from progressing from clerical roles to professional roles within the Agency. The 1991 Glass Ceiling Study Summary identified that the number of women in the workforce had increased to forty percent; however only nine percent of the Senior Intelligence Service were women. Systematic barriers prevented women from advancing to leadership positions. The exceptional women that first entered the intelligence community were pioneers for the subsequent generations of women. Today women are commended for their work within the intelligence community. This research has shown that the CIA once named the "Old Boys' Club" is no longer dominated by men. Modern spy fiction has adapted to more accurately portray the female spy as a strong leader who can balance motherhood and a career. Women have forced change within the intelligence community simultaneously constructing the most diverse and vigorous intelligence communities to date. The evolution of women in intelligence has transformed the fictional portrayal of the female spy. This thesis with analyze the relationship between fact and fiction in the portrayal of women in intelligence.
Bonesteel, Alyssa, "Evolving Perspectives of Women in Intelligence: Can Women Have It All?" (2017). Honors Theses and Student Projects. 10.