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There’s now a push to diversify the FBI. The federal agency is looking to fill 1,000 positions, and hope they’ll get more black, brown and female applicants to do it. The female leader in charge of the FBI in the Capital Region says it’s to important to refine the faces of the FBI.
If you think a woman isn’t man enough to work in the FBI, Special Agent Ellen Thumer is here to prove you wrong.
“Can you believe that you’re here?” CBS 6 morning anchor Lara Bryn asked Thumer.
“No! And I think that’s why I originally didn’t think to apply,” said Thumer.
Speaking of women in the FBI, there’s also Janeen DiGuissepi, the special agent in charge for the Albany office. “For me, it’s very humbling. I never thought I’d be an SAC,” said DiGuissepi.
They and Supervisory Special Agent Donald Chu know what it takes to join the ranks of one of the most respected federal organizations. But as minorities, they also know they represent much more than just the agency. They represent entire communities in a highly elite field.
“It’s important for the FBI to reflect the communities we serve,” said Special Agent in Charge DiGuiseppi.
“Sometimes when we go into a community and we want to interview a witness or speak to a victim of a crime, that victim or witness may be reluctant to talk to someone that they feel isn’t like them or represent them,” said Supervisory S.A. Chu.
That’s why the FBI now says it’s critical to diversify its workforce, particularly with special agents. As of August, women in the FBI made up 45.5% of the workforce. But they make up only 22.7% of special agents. Racial and ethnic minorities only account for 27.1% of the FBI nationally, similarly only making up about 20% of special agents.
“It’s very important for the FBI to recognize it needs to do better,” said Chu.
“I do feel like I work with some really amazing women. I also feel like there could be more,” said Thumer.
It’s something DiGuiseppi says she’s working on. She says women make up about 10% of agents in the Albany office, but admits there’s not much diversity in her office otherwise. “Not here but there are a lot of Asian Americans and other diverse groups in the FBI but you have to look at, we’re a small office and we don’t have a lot of turnover.”
The FBI held a recruiting event earlier this month, not solely focused on diversity but also on filling roles they need, whether that be in financial crimes or cybersecurity. “So it’s more than just looking at somebody’s background or skin color. It’s about filling niches so that we can do the best investigations we can for the community,” said DiGuiseppi.
Special Agent Thumer is working to fill one of those niches now, as she gears up for bomb tech training this spring. She started in the FBI years ago as a contractor.
“You are a perfect example of upward mobility so can you talk a little bit about what that means to be able to do that here in the FBI?” CBS 6 asked.
“Once you’re in the FBI, the sky’s the limit in terms of things you can do,” Thumer responded.
“The FBI has always tried to be in the lead, on the forefront of change,” said DiGuiseppi.
Part of that change is recognizing representation does matter.