A different kind of sex in the Secret Service

Secret Service agents stand watch as President Barack Obama greets troops at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 2, 2012.
Charles Dharapak | AP
Secret Service agents stand watch as President Barack Obama greets troops at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 2, 2012.
Posted May 04, 2012, at 4:08 p.m.

Men in black are not all, nor should they be, men. In fact, there are advantages to having more women work in the Secret Service.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and other public figures brought up the idea recently of having more women protecting national and visiting foreign leaders after 12 Secret Service agents and a dozen more military personnel were implicated in a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia.

“I can’t help but wonder if there’d been more women as part of that detail, if this ever would have happened,” Collins said on ABC News.

Whether the incident could have been avoided if more than 11 percent of Secret Service agents were women can’t be known. But Collins’ statement brings up an important point: More women should serve in the agency.

Not necessarily because they will prevent scandals. Not because they don’t hire prostitutes or cheat. But because they might be better at keeping it, well, secret.

That’s meant to be a good thing.

Secret Service agents shouldn’t hire prostitutes, period. And they certainly shouldn’t lie about it. But women’s ability to cover their tracks, pay attention to details and talk their way out of difficult situations would serve them well as agents.

The Secret Service should hire the most qualified people. And women fit the job description. You can read about it in a book by Dan Abrams where the title explains all: “Man Down: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that Women are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers and just about Everything Else.”

In the book, Abrams collects research to disprove myths about women. He argues that women make better soldiers because they don’t complain as much about pain. They are better at remembering words and faces. And they’re more adept spies because they are good at getting people to talk. Their presence also arouses less suspicion.

A study by Barclays Wealth and Ledbury Research found that women tend to be better investors because they don’t take as many risks. Why? Because they are not as overconfident. That’s a good attribute for a Secret Service agent.

Greater composure would work well. Research shows that women police officers often rely less on physical force and more on communication skills to defuse potentially violent situations, according to the National Center for Women & Policing.

And they might be better at understanding facial cues. About two-thirds of people polled in a British study believe women are better than men at catching someone in a lie.

Women now are more likely to get bachelor’s degrees than men, complete their degrees faster and get better grades, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics. The Secret Service would be smart to hire more women.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/04/opinion/a-different-kind-of-sex-in-the-secret-service/ printed on July 11, 2014