The prostitution scandal in Colombia that has caused embarrassment to the US Secret Service when, on the morning of April 12, a Secret Service officer was found in a hotel hallway publicly arguing with a prostitute over payment, continues to raise eyebrows. The ensuing investigation revealed that a dozen Secret Service agents and a dozen military personnel may have been involved, and many of these employees may have hired prostitutes and strippers ahead of President Obama’s visit to El Salvador last year. The scandal also has shed light upon the wide gender gap in the agency, with only 25% women making up the agency’s workforce and only 11% women serving as field agents and uniformed officers.
The shortage of women in the agency may be attributed to the travel demands, the need to be on-call around the clock, and the strain on women, who must frequently balance their families and careers. Despite aggressive recruitment of women, their representation remains low.
Past incidents have not helped to encourage more women to join the agency. Workers have been found emailing racially and sexually inappropriate jokes. Off-duty agents were involved in a violent alcohol-related bar brawl in 2002, and there have been previous reports of heavy drinking, pornography and security lapses within the agency. It is believed that an increase of women in the agency might cause some progress and result in more accountability.
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