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   Date: 10/25/13 Bookmark and Share

Symposium Examines History of Women in the CIA

The declassification of some 120 documents by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) serves as the backdrop for a symposium at Smith, “From Typist to Trailblazer: The Evolving View of Women in the CIA’s Workforce,” on Wednesday, Oct. 30, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Campus Center Carroll Room.


The symposium, co-hosted by Smith and the CIA, will feature an introductory talk by Brent Durbin, assistant professor of government, followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Durbin, examining the collection of newly declassified documents, which highlight the agency’s longstanding commitment to improving opportunities for women within its workforce. In his talk, Durbin will discuss the CIA’s progress in addressing the concerns of female agency employees.

The panel will include four current and former CIA staff members:

  • Jeanne Tisinger, CIA Director for Support
  • Abby Whitlow ’94, executive assistant for the Office of the Chief Information Officer
  • Carmen Middleton, Director of the Center for Mission Diversity and Inclusion
  • Martha Neff Kessler, former CIA analyst and current ombudsman for the Department of Homeland Security

The panelists will share their personal experiences at the CIA, and respond to audience questions.

A presentation by Joseph Lambert, Director of Information Management Services at the CIA, will follow the panel discussion.

A reception in the Wilson Atrium (outside the Campus Center Carroll Room) will close the symposium.

The declassified documents provide insight into the conversation at CIA about efforts to address the status of female employees from 1947 to today. The collection includes landmark documents, such as a 1953 report that examined career opportunities for women six years after the agency was established, and the 1992 Glass Ceiling Study.

The documents will be posted online next week, at, and a booklet of essays and document excerpts will be distributed free to event attendees.

The CIA’s 20-year-old Historical Review Program identifies, reviews and declassified documents that are assembled into collections focused on historically significant events or topics. The office hosts public conferences and symposia, such as the Smith event on October 30, at schools and presidential libraries, to promote the release of these collections.


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