5 Reasons why women make great spies

After decades as a spy through the Cold War, the ex Head of MI5, Dame Stella Rimington, tells us why a career in the secret service is perfect for women like you.

1. Women are great at listening, empathising and building trust – all essential qualities when you are building a relationship with a source, a central part of the job.
 
2. They can keep their cool when things get stressful and also bring a sense of calm to a heated situation. We often send a women in to mediate during a stand-off between two sides whose leaders are male. They are able to cool tempers more effectively.
 
3. Intelligence is a constant balancing act and women instinctively have a great sense of balance and common sense. An investigation can come in from a tiny tit bit of info from an undercover source. The difficulty is knowing the right point to take action. Too late and a bomb may go off killing thousands, too early and you can struggle to get the information needed to arrest or prosecute the people involved. Women are great balancers.

4. Women are more calm and considered than men, using violence only as a last resort. Real life as a spy isn’t like Homeland. The whole aim of a spy is to avoid getting officers or the public into violent situations and keeping them out of danger.  Women are great at keeping people safe.
 
5. I can’t deny that women possess a degree of ruthlessness. This can be useful when it comes to protecting others.
 
The spy novel Close Call by Stella Rimington is available. (Bloomsbury, £12.99).

Looking for more career inspo? It’s not too late to book tickets for Marie Claire’s @ Work Live, in association with Cointreau and Next. A one-day event on 23 April 2016, featuring advice, tips and inspiration from incredible speakers.

Reading now

Popular Life stories