CIA Director Leon Panetta is taking steps to increase the number of women at the highest levels of the nation's most fabled spy agency.

Today, Panetta announced that Stephanie O'Sullivan, formerly the head of the Science and Technology Directorate, has been promoted to the position of Associate Deputy Director --effectively, the agency's third in command. She replaces Scott White, a long-time CIA manager who has decided to retire. Earlier this year, Panetta promoted Sue Bromley to Chief Financial Officer. 


The position of Associate Deputy Director replaced the position of "executive director," which has been held by a woman before: Nora Slatkin, who served in the Clinton administration. During the Bush administration, Jami Miscik held the position of Deputy Director, Intelligence. Human intelligence remains a male-dominated enterprise, though the CIA has strenuously increased the number of women it recruits, particularly for the directorate of operations. At the Office of the Director for National Intelligence, one of the six top positions is held by a woman: Dawn Meyerriecks, the deputy DNI for acquisition and technology. Both the DNI's CIO and CFO are women; Priscilla Guthrie was brought to the CIO's job by Blair and Marilyn Vacca was promoted internally.

The U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to promoting women to the top ranks of intelligence services. Britain's Security Service, MI-5, bears the distinction of having fielded the first woman director, Stella Rimmington.