CIA challenged over 'jobs for the boys'

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The Independent Online
CRITICS of Hillary Clinton may protest, but a woman has never been president. None heads a major American corporation. But if some 200 angry women at the Central Intelligence Agency have their way, at least a few more female spies may soon be out there batting for the USA.

The women are all employees of the CIA's operations directorate, the Agency's glamour division which actually carries out foreign espionage. According to the New York Times, they are about to bring a class action suit, accusing the CIA of systematically discriminating against them by keeping them out of the best jobs.

Now it might be imagined that the qualities required of a good spy cut across the demarcation lines of education, class or gender. In practice however, and despite statistics showing that 37 per cent of its workforce are women, the CIA has an enduring preference for white, Ivy League males.

Of the operations directorate's 2,000-plus employees, less than 10 are women holding senior positions. Former employees claim there are almost no female case officers (who run agents) or CIA station chiefs abroad. The most promising women still tend to become analysts or reports officers, who edit raw intelligence.

To his credit, President Clinton's CIA Director James Woolsey publicly acknowledges the problem. But three years of in-house negotiations have apparently achieved next to nothing.