Former Nun and Marine Blazed Trail for Women in the FBI

Women in the FBI

By Prerana Korpe

Forty-three years ago, among 43 male counterparts, emerged the FBI’s first modern era female special agents. On Oct. 25, 1972, Joanne Pierce Misko and Susan Roley Malone completed new agent training at the FBI Training Academy at Quantico, Virginia. The two became the Bureau’s first female agents since the 1920s, when new leadership had excluded women from the role.

A Bureau recruiter first piqued Misko’s interest in the FBI during her days as a nun. After leaving the convent, Misko joined the Bureau in 1970 as a researcher. Malone first dreamed about working for the FBI in grade school; she was a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps when she joined the Bureau in 1972.

Agent training was rigorous – including endurance, strength, firearms, self-defense, and academics. The women endured the demands of physical and mental conditioning, held to the same standards as their male classmates.

Misko and Malone parted ways upon completion of training, when each was ordered to report to a separate FBI field office. Malone spent the next seven years as an FBI agent before rejoining the Marines. Misko worked as an agent for 22 years before retiring from the Bureau in 1994.

Today, the FBI workforce includes more than 2,700 female special agents and more than 15,000 women collectively.

Inside Today’s FBI: Fighting Crime in the Age of Terror” opens Nov. 13, 2015, at the Newseum. The update of the museum’s popular FBI exhibit goes behind the scenes with the Bureau to explore evolving crime and crime-fighting in the post-9/11 age.

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