Correction: The Bletchley Crypto and Sigint operations were only 73% female

My blog describing Bletchley as where “Women won the War” has, not surprisingly, come in for some flack, including the numbers. The “roll of honour”  lists only those, slightly under 10,000, known to have worked on crypto and sigint, including the outstations. It does not include those running the site, including the provision of security. It does not include the Americans: several hundred from the US Navy running the UK end of the massive twinning operation that continues to this day. 

Of the 9,500 listed, just under 7,000 were women.

Many of the entries are cryptic, to say the least, but they show clearly that the women were not just running the Bombes, Collosi and decoding machines – doing what they were told.

They ran many of the key analytical functions, using techniques that have never been declassified because they remain at the heart of what GCHQ and NSA does today. These include several “big data” techniques which Google and others are said to have patented over the past decade or so, not knowing they were already over 50 years old.

The women also provided many of the main crypto breakthroughs.

The big difference between the women and the men was that the former (like the Americans who also served at Bletchley) never felt the need for public recognition.

All that we know about Bletchley comes from a small group of men. I will not compare them to Edward Snowden because they sought and obtained clearance for what they wrote. But you get my drift.

Hence my comment that Information Security is an unsuitable job for a man and my strong support for plans to organise trips for schoolgirls to visit the Museum of Computing at Bletchley (not just the theme park with its comfortable and patronising male mythology) and start preparing for the jobs of the future, securing a society that will be critically dependent on the security and resilience  of complex systems and networks: jobs too important to be left to men.   



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