Imagine you want to infiltrate a terror cell. Do you send a white guy in a tux? Yesterday, an AP story was published about MI6, Britain's secret spy agency, and the recruiting campaign it launched about a year ago. More than 20,000 people have since applied, and they don't all look like Daniel Craig. Or Roger Moore, or Sean Connery, for that matter. The agency is actively seeking women and minorities to tackle terrorism. Pola Uddin, the first Muslim woman in the House of Lords, is in favor of some affirmative action for MI6. "We need less sexism and a symbol who doesn't always hold a martini glass," she says.
According to the AP:
MI6's Web site encourages mothers to apply and assures women they won't be used as "honey pots," or seductresses. Disabled applicants are welcome. And a special search is directed at minorities who speak Mandarin, Arabic, Persian and the Afghan languages of Dari and Pashto.
Obviously this makes perfect sense, but why has it taken so long? Alias aside, why do we imagine a "spy" to be a man in a trenchcoat?
I know a woman who was tapped to be a spy for the US. She was someone you would probably never suspect was a spy: A bubbly, chatty mother of three. She wasn't on the front lines — her life was never in danger — but she did go to cocktail parties and UN events, make conversation with various people and then report back to her employer — they'd meet at a bar or restaurant, never at the office — and she'd get paid in stacks of cash.
Though James Bond is a literary character — and will probably be a straight white guy for the next hundred years — wouldn't the best recruitment tool be a flick of Jane Bond saving the world?
Jane Bond? Britain's Secret Spy Agency Launches Recruiting Blitz For Women And Minorities [Tucson Citizen, via AP]