Ewen MacAskill writes, "The agent known as Q, inventive head of gadgets at the UK spy agency MI6, has always been portrayed in the James Bond movies as a man. But the real head of Britain’s secret service, Sir Alex Younger, revealed on Wednesday night that Q is in fact a woman.
Younger, traditionally known as C, delivered the keynote speech at the Women in IT Awards in London in which he appealed for more women to join MI6, especially those with a scientific or technological background. 'If any of you would like to join us … the real-life Q is looking forward to meeting you and I’m pleased to report that the real-life Q is a woman,' he said.
In the Bond movies Q is one of the best known characters, a boffin coming up with ever more imaginative gadgets.
All the UK intelligence agencies since the leak of top secrets by US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 have become a little less secret and adopted a more public profile. In 2016, Younger, in a first, delivered a speech to the media from inside the headquarters of MI6.
In that speech he said the stereotype of MI6 – which deals with overseas intelligence – tended to be based on Bond and was wholly inaccurate. Bond is both a boon to MI6 in giving it a worldwide profile but a negative in reflecting the nature of the job and the kind of people the agency wants to recruit."