London: Anna Chapman made headlines across the world after the red headed beauty was arrested in New York last month on charges of spying for Russia. But she`s just one of many women who use their "sexuality to their advantage" to forge careers in what has largely been a world dominated by men.
Just under half of Britain`s 3,500 `spooks` are women, say experts, with feisty, fearless females making the best spies. And these women know best how to use their femininity with pistols concealed in their designer handbags and lipsticks doubling as listening devices.
"Female spies like Anna Chapman use their sexuality to their advantage. An attractive, intelligent woman can ensnare a man and get him to lower his guard. She`ll turn him into putty in her hands and get the information she needs. She doesn`t have to use sex - but it`s a powerful weapon," The News of the World quoted Claire Thomas, co-author of Spooks: The Unofficial History of MI5, as saying.
While men`s physical strength may allow them to overshadow girls in many other spheres, this is certainly not the case in the world of spying.
Claire said, "Espionage is more about gathering intelligence than getting into Jason Bourne-style fist fights. Male agents don`t have an advantage. If anything, women are mentally much stronger than men. They can cope with pressure better, and the demands of leading a double life."
Claire added, "Women are more likely to be sent on corporate missions these days, where they can get jobs in offices that allow them access to files, or have drinks with well-connected people. But the essence of their work is still the same.
"They can exploit men`s vanity, seducing them into telling them what they want to know. Men don``t suspect women asking strange questions in the same way they would a man."
Dr Funke Baffour, a psychologist, believes women make better spies because they "are used to taking on many roles - being one person at work, one with friends, and another with our bloke or kids."
"We manage these seamlessly and almost have `double lives` already. Women are also better at lying and keeping secrets than men. We think through possible problems and outcomes before speaking, so are less likely to be caught out," she said.