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CIA Releases Declassified Documents Tracing Historic Role of Women at CIA

October 30, 2013


On Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, the Central Intelligence Agency released a new collection of declassified documents in connection with a symposium held at Smith College in Northampton, MA, showcasing the advances female employees have made at CIA throughout its history.  The CIA documents, which highlight the Agency’s longstanding commitment to improving opportunities for women at CIA, were a central focus of today’s Smith College symposium, titled From Typist to Trailblazer: The Evolving View of Women in the CIA’s Workforce.

The collection of some 120 declassified documents—most of which were released publicly for the first time today—provide insight into the conversation at CIA about efforts to examine and address the status of female employees from 1947 to today.  The collection includes landmark documents, such as a 1953 report that examined career opportunities for women just six years after the Agency’s establishment, and the 1992 Glass Ceiling Study, as well as numerous memorandums and meeting minutes.  The documents, along with a publication containing essays and document excerpts, are available online at

Today, nearly half the CIA’s workforce is composed of women, and female officers make up about half of CIA Director John O. Brennan’s leadership team—including the number two and number three positions at the Agency.  Moreover, two of the four CIA directorates—the Directorate of Intelligence and the Directorate of Support—are led by women.  Female officers currently fill roughly a third of the Agency’s senior intelligence service, whereas they held just ten percent of these posts in 1992.

CIA Director Brennan is strongly committed to hiring and retaining a diverse workforce that draws on America’s top talent.  Speaking at a Women’s History Month Celebration earlier this year, Director Brennan said: “During my three decades in government—including 25 years at CIA—I’ve seen firsthand the knowledge, leadership, courage, and dedication that women bring to the table in meeting the most difficult missions, including the intelligence mission.”  Director Brennan believes that “solving complex intelligence problems requires a diversity of viewpoints and must involve people with different life experiences.”

At the symposium, current and former female CIA officers from various disciplines and backgrounds discussed their personal experiences at the Agency and their perspectives on CIA efforts to ensure that all Agency employees have equal opportunities to succeed.

The CIA’s 20-year-old Historical Review Program (HRP), part of CIA’s Information Management Services (IMS) group, sponsored the event and is responsible for the release of more than 1,200 pages of intelligence materials on the evolving view of women at CIA.  In closing remarks, IMS Director Joe Lambert said, “The Agency holds its records in trust for the American people and when their sensitivity lessens over time, we have a duty to make them publicly available.”

Posted: Oct 30, 2013 06:26 PM
Last Updated: Nov 12, 2013 10:58 AM