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'The real Q is a woman': boss of MI6 makes pitch for female recruits

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."

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