More Female Spies Needed in the United Kingdom

May 9, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. spearhead /ˈspɪərˌhɛd/ (v.) – to lead a project
Example: The CEO spearheaded the new campaign.

2. untapped /ʌnˈtæpt/ (adj.) – unused
Example: Good sources of applicants remain untapped.

3. statistics /stəˈtɪs tɪks/ (n.) – data, mostly made up of numbers
ExampleStatistics show that more women are unemployed than men.

4. remedy /ˈrɛm ɪ di/ (v.) – to solve or cure
Example: Politicians plan to remedy the growing economic problem.

5. pool /pool/ (n.) – a collection of something
Example: The pool of applicants seems promising.


Read the text below.
More female spies in higher ranks are needed in UK’s intelligence agencies, according to a report by the members of its Parliament.

Lawmaker Hazel Blears [bleers], who spearheaded the report, said the valuable skills of female agents are untapped after having children. Those who worked in the field, like Afghanistan, find themselves in human resource or finance departments after giving birth. Opportunities to work in the field are limited because of their childcare duties.

Blears added that having mostly men in the agencies will limit their perspective. This problem may result to poor solutions to threats on national security.

Compared to previous years, three UK agencies—MI6, MI5 and GCHQ—show good statistics in the number of female staff. However, the numbers are low compared to those employed in civil service.

Women comprise about 53% of the staff in other government agencies but only 37% in intelligence agencies. In addition, very few female agents rise to management ranks. Historically, only two women succeeded in heading the intelligence agencies in UK.

To remedy this situation, Blears suggested increasing the pool of applicants for the position. The agencies can tap middle-aged women who have more than ten years of work experience. These women would have already raised their children and have enough life experience to do well as agents.

Another solution is to provide better career management for the intelligence agencies’ female staff. This includes providing nursery and childcare services. This will assist them in returning to field work after a maternity leave.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What advantages do women have when working for a military agency?
·         Do you think certain stereotypes of women can affect their careers? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         How can men and women work efficiently in any workplace?
·         In your country, would you say that women are given good work opportunities? Please explain your answer.

May 9, 2015