We’ve all seen the James Bond movies, where the likes of Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig effortlessly infiltrate enemy lines with panache and charm, disarming their opponents simply with wit and charisma and gathering top secret intelligence for their agencies.

female spies

But did you know that the best spies in the world have mostly comprised of women? “Women make bloody good spies”, said a female Secret Intelligence Service Officer, known as “Lisa“, speaking out as part of an SIS recruitment campaign.

We are quite good at multi-tasking. We are quite good at tapping into different emotional resources“.

The main reason behind this is the rampant sexism around the idea of female spies, which is immensely exploitable. Thus, the belief that spying seems like a man’s job is possibly the biggest reason women make good ones.

female spies

Here’s to celebrating these top 5 female spies in history, who could make even James Bond putty in their hands!

1. Mata Hari

Perhaps the most famous female spy of all, with a game based on her as well, Margaretha Geertruida Zelle worked as a stripper under the name Mata Hari, touring France and other European cities, where she became the courtesan of powerful men in government and the military. Suspected of spying for the Germans, despite her defense that she was a loyal French double agent, she was arrested in 1917 and executed eight months later.

female spies

Picture Source  female spies

2. Nancy Wake

Working as a journalist in France during WWII, Nancy volunteered to be a courier for the French Resistance, and had established a spy network so extensive and effective that the Gestapo put a price on her head worth millions. Alleged to have killed a German soldier with her bare hands, she was honored with the highest civilian awards by several countries, after the war.

female spies

Picture Source   female spies

3. Krystyna Skarbek

Krystyna Skarbek was an agent for England’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) during WWII, best known for having saved 2 SOE agents about to be executed by the Gestapo by passing herself off as the well-connected niece of a member of the British High Command. Awarded the George Medal, she was notorious for her several affairs and was killed in 1952 by a jealous lover.

female spies

 

4. Noor Inayat Khan

Noor was an Indian-American Muslim, and the first female radio operator to infiltrate German-occupied Paris. After being betrayed to the Germans, however, she was arrested, put in chains, and brutally tortured, but she never revealed any information. She was executed in the Dachau Concentration Camp on September 13, 1944, and was posthumously honoured with the Croix de Guerre and the George Cross award.

female spies

Picture Source   female spies

5.Violette Szabo

Having lost her husband in battle, who’d never even met their daughter, Violette, at 21, was inspired to join the service herself. A highly successful, but short lived secret agent, she was involved in sabotage, infiltration, and information gathering. However, after D-Day, she was captured, following a fierce gunfight with the Nazis. Tortured and executed at the Ravensbrück concentration camp at only 23, this legendary spy even inspired a video game called Velvet Assassin, based on her.

female spies

And you thought only James Bond and Jason Bourne could save the day with style?

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