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MPs say agencies should do more to recruit female spies



UK intelligence needs to do more to recruit middle-aged women and mothers to be spies, using websites like Mumsnet, according to senior MPs.


In a report, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said such women were an “untapped recruitment pool” for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

It said more than half of the civil service were women, but the figure was 37% in the intelligence agencies.

Hazel Blears, the Labour MP who led the report, called for a culture change.

Women make up 53% of all civil servant roles but the report found that in the three intelligence agencies there are “disproportionally more” female members of staff at junior grades, with only 19% reaching senior grades.

Childcare issues

The report said women should not be limited to certain jobs.

Ms Blears said: “I personally want women to be attracted to a career in intelligence and to feel there is the prospect of real advancement.”

Speaking to BBC’s Woman’s Hour she said things are improving but are still not good enough.

She said “We need to keep using women’s skills and experience.

“If you have been running agents in Afghanistan, you are a really valuable resource.

“It is absolutely crucial that after you come back having had children that you don’t go into something like HR or finance.”


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