Updated: June 1, 2012 8:11AM
WASHINGTON — Secret Service agents are often portrayed in popular culture as disciplined, unflappable, loyal — and male. A spiraling prostitution scandal that has highlighted the dearth of women in the agency has many wondering: Would more females in the ranks prevent future dishonor?
Only about a tenth of field agents and uniformed officers are women, a shortage some attribute to travel demands especially taxing on women balancing families and careers. A scandal that risks portraying the agency as unfriendly to women, however, could set back efforts to close the gender gap.
“I can’t help but think that there would be some progress if there was more diversity and if there were more women that were there,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “When you have a diversity of people there, it brings more accountability. What you see is a lack of accountability in this.”
Women make up about 25 percent of the agency’s work force, but only about 11 percent of agents and uniformed officers, spokesman Ed Donovan said. That’s significantly lower than the 19 percent of female special agents in the FBI.
The agency has aggressively recruited women, targeting female-oriented career fairs and sending brochures to colleges.
“We all recognize that we want to get more women into the Secret Service,” Donovan said. AP