By Steve Neavling
Susan Riley Malone, the daughter of a Marine pilot, made history 50 years ago, becoming one of the first two women to graduate as a special agent from the FBI Academy.
The FBI celebrated the special anniversary recently at the academy with current and former female agents, CBS reports.
Malone said she wanted to be an agent since she was in eighth grade, so when her dream came true, she would stop at nothing to prove she had what it takes.
“I think in some quarters it was an experiment and, you know, would it fail? I certainly wasn’t going to fail. If they had to kill me, I wouldn’t quit,” she said.
It wasn’t easy.
“I think some of the challenges, even from some of my colleagues in our class, a couple of them had a difficult time being in a class with two women agents that carried the same badge and did the same job they were going to do,” she said.
Since then, women have become a bigger part of the agency, but they still only make up a small fraction of the bureau’s agents.
Today, only 22% of special agents are women. Just seven of the 56 FBI field offices are led by women.
“I think there’s few women in law enforcement in general,” said Jacqueline Maguire, who runs the Philadelphia Field Office. “It’s a tough job.”
Maguire encourages women to join the bureau.
“I say go for it,” Maguire said. “It’s really cool to be able to go home at the end of the day and say, ‘I tried to make an impact. I tried to make the world better.'”
Longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover barred women from being agents. But when he died in 1972, that rule was lifted.
Malone attended Hoover’s funeral, and two months later, she met her roommate, Joanne Pierce Misko, at a swearing-in ceremony at FBI headquarters.
In July 2012, the FBI featured an eye-opening interview with Malone.