Home News Stories 2012 September Celebrating Women Special Agents, Part 6 Retired Special Agent Reflects on Undercover Work

Retired Special Agent Reflects on Undercover Work


I was young and I thought I was Superwoman. I was first on the police department. I’d gotten my Master’s degree. I survived the police department as a detective and undercover and being on the street as a patrol officer.

And I just had the personality traits to be able to change my personality, change the way I looked, meld in anywhere because they didn’t know about female cops or agents being undercover. Most of the public still did not know that there were female FBI agents.

And I was only 27 at the time, after graduating the first time. And so I could fit in anywhere. You know, you could go anywhere. You could fit in. And a lot of it is just personality and not being afraid. You know, I wasn’t afraid to do undercover work.

And I just kind of had that personality that … the challenge and the fun of play-acting and knowing you were getting something over on the bad guys made it intriguing to me and it made a challenge for me.

It has to be one of those things where it’s kind of innate. I don’t think you can make an undercover operative; I think they’re either there or they’re not.

While you’re doing it you’re so engrossed in the acting of doing it and you can’t miss a beat, because if you use the wrong name … and a lot of time you’d have to be in settings where you had to drink and eat and you had to listen to other conversations going on and still be able to discuss with somebody and hear what was going on in another conversation.

And so you have to have these kinds of talents or traits or abilities in order to do that. And you had to have a good memory. And you had to control what you were doing every second, so you didn’t slip. Because if you did slip you were in trouble.


Celebrating Women Special Agents

About This Series

On July 17, 1972, the first two women of the modern era entered the FBI Training Academy at Quantico, Virginia. Fourteen weeks later they emerged as special agents. Over the next 40 years, women agents reshaped the Bureau, achieving leadership posts across the U.S. and around the world. This series looks at their roles, their challenges, and the rewards of a demanding career as a G-woman.

- Part 1: A New Chapter is Opened
- Part 2: Two Women Blaze a Trail
- Part 3: Early Pioneers Tell Their Stories
- Part 4: Pop Culture’s Take on Women Special Agents

- Part 5: A Diversity of Backgrounds and Experiences
- Part 6: Working Undercover

- Part 7: Two Made the Ultimate Sacrifice 

In Their Own Words
 Agents past and present talk about what brought them to the Bureau, their challenges, and their place among four decades of pioneers.
 Collage of Women Agents (Black and White)
“You don’t want people to say she’s a good female agent. You want people to say she’s a good agent.. That’s what you strive for.” 
— Mary Rook, Special Agent in Charge, Anchorage FBI

 As Seen on TV 
Marsha Thomason of “White Collar” and Gillian Anderson of “The X-Files” thank the Bureau’s women agents for their service.
 Marsha Thomason and Gillian Anderson




On July 17, 1972, the first two women of the modern era entered the FBI Training Academy at Quantico, Virginia.
This is the second story in our series marking the 40-year anniversary of women special agents.