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  • Writer's pictureHarris L. Kligman

Do Women Make Good Spies?

Updated: May 20, 2022

Do women make good spies? We asked the author Harris L. Kligman this exact question.

"A lingering question for espionage officials has always been whether women would make good spies. As with any question, there are mixed answers and opinions.

The underpinning or hallmarks of a good spy is that they should be calm, low-key, reticent (Disposed to silence) and physically capable of surviving in dangerous, risky and difficult situations.

Women are viewed, by many, as being too emotional, conceited/vain, loquacious. (Talkative) They fall in love frequently, develop emotional attachments, are at times considered impatient, and are viewed to withstand hardships poorly.

Many intelligence agencies disagree, and have a number of women employed throughout their ranks.

Among them: Eloise Page, who joined the CIA upon its founding in 1947. Page rose through the ranks of foreign spy operations after World War II becoming a chief of scientific and technical operations. Nick-named the “Iron Butterfly,” she would become the CIA’s first female station chief, in Athens. A predecessor there, Richard Welch, had been assassinated three years earlier.

Then there was Virginia Hall, the CIA’s “Limping Lady.” A Baltimore native with a prosthetic leg (which she named Cuthbert). Hall posed as an elderly farmhand while she worked throughout Europe organizing spy networks and smuggling supplies to resistance fighters during World War II. Her efforts helped destroy Hitler's Third Reich, which called her “the most dangerous of all Allied spies.”

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