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John Makely / NBC News

TODAY   |  November 14, 2013

Ann Curry: CIA now nearly half female

For the first time in the organization’s history, nearly half of the CIA, including five of the top spots, is made up of women. NBC’s Ann Curry looks at the history of women in the organization.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we are back at 7:40 with a revealing look pence the cia . today women make up half the agency.

>> we were the girl they paved the way for us.

>> we wouldn't be here if it weren't for you.

>> reporter: deep pence cia headquarters, a special room a. command post the night seals killed osama bin laden .

>> on any given day, there are many women than men.

>> at the table?

>> at this table.

>> reporter: more than half of the cia is female. among them, fran moore the director of intelligence, in charge of the president's daily brief and sue gordon the director of support for america's global network of spies. in fact, women now hold five of the top eight jobs at the cia . even the deputy director, a heartbeat away from the tough job for the first time a woman.

>> our deputy director, our executive director, our cio, our director of support, our director for intelligence.

>> if anyone told you if it would look like this or you would have the job that you have, what would you have said?

>> that i would have the job that i have, i would say, are you kidding?

>> reporter: for decades, intelligence work was an all boys club . most of the jobs women could get were as secretaries. world war ii allowed some patriotic young women to work as spies in the then called office of strategic services , including doris bohr, who analyzed troop photos and fawzy concentration camps, and betty mcintosh, to damage the japanese war effort and pass along explosives that blue up a train.

>> here are dog tags .

>> reporter: she is 90 and mcintosh 98 remember well the way it was.

>> we were always referred to as the girls. there were two of us.

>> what did you think about that?

>> we didn't like it very much. i was doing the exact same thing as majors and lt. col.s.

>>> here i was the girls.

>> the girls.

>> and something still hasn't changed. i understand you don't talk a lot about this particular event.

>> no.

>> i can't ask any questions?

>> no.

>> sorry.

>> still, today, you can't talk about it?

>> no, sorry. i wish i could help, but, no.

>> after the war, battle hardened spice returned home to square one, when doris noded a deputy.

>> they said, are you the best qualified, i am adding you because you are married now and you could get pregnant and leave.

>> even in the '90s, barely any women were from management.

>> i spent 12 years as an analyst. i never had the sort of cap on the shoulder, we think you are capable of actually running a team.

>> in 1995 , after hundreds of female cia employees sued for gender discrimination the agency real ietzed it had to change. today cia director tells us in his first interview in the job, the agency's leaders are picked foretheir ability, gender not withstanding. it was his decision to fame a woman as his number two.

>> are there qualities that women bring that men metro detroit not be able to bring?

>> i am very surprised at how per septemberive and insightful women can be about how a man is acting. they have the opportunity to see the world through i think those very important eyes of a woman .

>> reporter: the eyes of a woman zeroed in on osama bin laden . the team behind his capture was led largely by female officer, one still unnamed became the subject of "zero dark 30."

>> and those individuals had been working the issue at that time, i am not confident we would have been successful.

>> reporter: we gathered in one room the agency's past and present . any advice?

>> they've done all right an their own, they certainly have.

>> it certainly wasn't on our own.

>> reporter: as for future ashley hurts is one of the if youest recruits.

>> we've had it easy compared to them. there is no question about gender or whether or not i can't do anything in the cia .

>> reporter: it would appear seeing a woim women director of the cia is no longer a question of if but when. anne curry , fbc news, walk.

>> and you can see more of anne's reporting tonight on