It’s always nice to hear that women are moving up in the world in terms of positions of power. Three women have served as U.S. Secretary of State, for example—Madeleine Albright under Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice under George W. Bush, and of course current SOS Hillary Clinton in the Obama administration—and there have been female leaders including Angela Merkel of Germany and Britain’s Margaret Thatcher.
Long has taken over one of the “top computer geek shops” in the national security world. The NGA synthesizes satellite imagery, using everything from the number of electric lines a city has to the density of the soil, to create three-dimensional, interactive maps …
… of every spot on the planet. They’re used by everyone from invading troops gauging whether a country’s roads or deserts can handle tank tracks, to oil spill cleanup crews trying to decide where to deploy resources.
Long has the science-and-technology credentials to do it, with a degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech, and a masters in mechanical engineering from the Catholic University of America.
Long has previously served as deputy director of Naval Intelligence, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and, most recently, second in command at the Defense Intelligence Agency. This is an impressive resume for anyone, and it looks like Long has definitely earned her promotion.
Her recent elevation, an impressive achievement in and of itself, is also bringing to light an interesting (and positive!) statistic.
Women represent 38 percent of total intelligence work force, according to Wendy Morigi, spokeswoman for the Director of National Intelligence. In six most prominent agencies, 27 percent of senior intelligence positions are held by women.
Now, 38% isn’t a great number in and of itself, but in a field that is stereotypically male it is pretty exciting to think about.
That good news aside, women still face an unquestionably steep climb in the national security world.
Intelligence executive Carrie Bachner, a former Air Force officer, worked as the legislative adviser to Charles Allen when he was the Department of Homeland Security’s top intelligence official.
That meant she advised him daily on how to deal with the 86 congressional committees responsible for DHS oversight.
Still Bachner says, when she’d walk into a room of intelligence officials or congressional staff with Allen, “they’d automatically ignore me, assuming I was the executive assistant or a note taker until they’d realize, ‘Oh, wow, she’s the person we’re supposed to talk to.’”
This is a problem—for female government employees and for women in pretty much every area of the workplace—that will not be solved any time soon, but for today, I know that I am going to sit back for a moment and just be proud that Letitia Long has advanced the cause of workplace equality forward a bit further.
It’s all about the baby steps.