The FBI has embarked on a milestone for women.
This year marks 45 years since women first came on board to serve as agents with the FBI. St. Louis has a unique distinction in the history of women serving with this prestigious law enforcement agency. Special Agent Joanne Pierce- Misko was one of the first two women to join the FBI in the early 1970’s and was assigned to the FBI office in St. Louis upon graduating from the FBI Academy. What is even more impressive and fascinating, is what Pierce-Misko did prior to joining the FBI. She was a nun.
Yes, Pierce-Misko traded in her habit for a badge. She had been a nun for over a decade when she came to a turning point in her life. While teaching at the Sisters of Mercy Parochial School in Buffalo, New York, an FBI agent came to the school for a recruiting event. The agent made such an impression on the young nun, that she ended up leaving her religious order to pursue a career with the FBI.
“I loved the work that I was doing. I enjoyed it immensely. And then this just happened. So it wasn’t something that I had been planning to do or I thought was going to happen at the time.” Pierce-Misko said during a 2012 interview provided by the FBI.
“I honestly didn’t see myself as a pioneer. It was just a role that I was fortunate enough to become a part of and I just was carrying out that role of a special agent.” Pierce-Misko added.
Pierce-Misko paved the way for women such as Special Agent Karyn Feeney of the St. Louis FBI division, “We have to thank those women that took this path 45 years ago, which afforded me the opportunity to enter into federal law enforcement because law enforcement has been predominately a male occupation, but those numbers are changing.”
Feeney’s career with the FBI has spanned over 22 years, where she has been assigned to a wide variety of cases. This includes everything from criminal enterprises and to counter- terrorism. She currently is working with officers from the St. Louis County and St. Louis police departments in the mental health industry on crisis intervention.
Equality for female FBI agents has evolved according to Feeney, “We are paid the same as male agents. We are provided the same opportunities to compete for supervisory and management positions just as males are and we given the opportunities to work the same type of case work.”
Hollywood has frequently glamorized the life of a female FBI agent with such TV shows as Criminal Minds or the hit movie Miss Congeniality. However, Feeney shared that the job isn’t always pleasant.
“We see sides of people that we don’t particularly always want to see. We have to deal with that.” Feeney explained. “It’s a job we’re doing to keep our nation safe and it’s very rewarding in the end.”
The FBI is currently accepting applications for its 2018 Summer Honors Internship Program and Collegiate Hiring Initiative. Agents will be visiting area college campuses to promote these programs.
Feeney said women are strongly encouraged to apply, “We’re really pushing females to check out our website and come to our career booths that we’re going to be at over the next few weeks and learn more about the opportunities the FBI has, both from a professional staff position and a special agent position.”
The deadline to apply is October 15. More information is available online at www.fbi.jobs.gov.