MI5 launches recruitment drive for women

November 8th, 2010 - 10:13 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 8 (IANS) British intelligence agency MI5 Monday began a recruitment campaign targeting women after violence in a TV show appeared to be scaring away would-be female recruits, a media report said Monday.

The service is made up of 59 percent men and the organisation wants to bolster the number of women intelligence officers, Daily Mail reported.

Officials say the over-the-top violence of Spooks TV show, one of the BBC’s longest-running dramas, is having a deterrent effect on potential candidates.

In recent episodes one officer, Ros Myers, was blown apart trying to rescue a drugged and paralysed home secretary from a bomb and another, Jo Portman, was shot dead restraining a terrorist.

Only last week, Ruth Evershed was left splattered in the blood of a French hitman whom she repeatedly battered and shot in a kill-or-be-killed hostage fight.

Now, in an unusual move, officials are seeking to ease the minds of female viewers thinking of joining the service.

MI5 wants women applicants to know they will face an altogether more cerebral challenge than that of Ros and her colleagues - analysing intelligence about the threat to Britain from Al Qaeda and other groups, not chasing through the streets of London shooting at terror suspects.

A senior Whitehall source said: “Spooks is a great TV show, but the violence can put women off applying for jobs at MI5.

“A career in the service is about brain not brawn, carefully piecing together vital intelligence to protect the UK and its people.”

Spooks has a noticeable impact on visits to the website of MI5, which is still recruiting staff despite cuts to the overall counter-terrorism budget.

Visits triple on a Monday night when Spooks is on, from an average of 500 an hour to 1,500.

During Spooks, seven of the top 10 terms used in search engines to access the MI5 website are careers-related, such as “MI5 careers”, “MI5 jobs”, and “How to join MI5″.

The top Spooks-related question searched on the MI5 website is: “How realistic is Spooks?”

Whitehall officials say those thinking of applying, concerned that working for the security service means running around the streets being shot at need not worry: The vast majority of work of the intelligence office is done from their desk at Thames House.

MI5 has decided to cap the number of staff at 3,800, but continues to recruit candidates to reach that figure - whether straight out of university or from those wanting a career change.

The days of the tap on the shoulder are largely over, with jobs advertised on the internet instead.

The Service is made up of 41 percent women and 59 percent men and the starting salary for an intelligence officer - the grade MI5 is seeking to recruit - is 24,750 pounds.

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