As the Cold War evolved, American intelligence expanded into the cyber domain with the introduction of computers and satellites. The information obtained from these technological advances spawned a new term: SIGINT, for signals intelligence.  Women have always played major roles in SIGINT collection systems, principally as technicians and analysts. Female engineers, scientists, and mathematicians are major contributors to specialized SIGINT projects representing all facets of today’s technology-driven, intelligence-gathering operations.  


Sattelite in space gathering signal intelligence
Satellite used to collect Signals Intelligence
Photo Credit: National Defense University


CIA Seal


Elizabeth Swantek

  • During 1951, CIA employee assigned to Office of Special Operations in Germany.
  • Worked with her team to assess, select, and train agents to infiltrate the Soviet Union.
  • Qualified parachutist and wireless operator.
  • Expert in survival techniques.

Dorothy Blum (1924-1980)

  • Army Security Agency employee during World War II.
  • Became NSA technical expert.
  • Improved NSA’s method of cryptanalysis.
  • Pioneered the use of computers to manipulate and automatically process data.
  • In 1972, appointed chief of the Computer Operations Organization, C7.


Dorthy Blum
Dorothy Blum
Photo Credit: NSA

Juanita Moody

  • Army Security Agency employee during World War II.
  • Became chief of NSA’s Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) operations.
  • Enhanced NSA’s SIGINT reporting.
  • Supervised NSA’s response to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Conducted high-level briefings covering every facet of the Crisis.
  • Because of her efforts, NSA became part of the White House Situation Room contingent.
juanita moody induction
Juanita Moody at her induction into the National
Cryptologic Museum's Hall of Honor in 2002.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army

While some female Cold Warriors, depending on their work, can be publicly acknowledged, still others remain in the shadows, protecting both “sources and methods” — how the information was obtained and from where or by whom.  Most of these dedicated and patriotic women rightly believed their “secret service” is its own and greatest reward.

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