During the Second World War, the women employed in Britain's secret Security Service (MI5) far outnumbered their male colleagues. Their numbers grew rapidly over the course of the war and by 1941 stood at over 800. Despite the vast influx of female labour into the agency, attitudes towards the role of women in intelligence, be it as wartime workers or as secret agents, demonstrated remarkable continuity with those of the interwar period. Similarly, internal attitudes regarding those traits which produced the best agents and intelligence officers, highly informed by understandings of both masculinity and social status, demonstrated considerable resilience.
Bibliographical noteThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Women’s History Review on 06/07/2017, available
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