Major Helen Carter

Pioneering Cold War Spycatcher.

Helen served as a Corporal in the Counter Intelligence Wing of ‘Intelligence and Security Group Germany’ from 1987-89. Her role was to detect activity by foreign intelligence services (Soviets and East Germans), which targeted military and civilian personnel, particularly the German employees of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).

“The computer system I was using was an early iteration of today's databases. Essentially, it was an electronic card filing system that might pickout a previous report on an individual. It wasn’t one of today's high-powered relational databases, which can be interrogated to establish linkages or patterns of activity.”

How did you end up in the British Intelligence Corps?

'I joined in 1985, when you could only, as a female, join the Women's Royal Army Corp. I joined straight from school, having done a couple of A-levels and some O-levels, the precursor of GCSEs. I've served for over 25 years now.'

Did girls study computing when you were at school?

'When I was leaving school, they reintroduced computer lessons as a new lesson you could take for your O levels, which was a precursor to GCSE.

And for whatever reason they decided that you had to be good at maths to do it. And by large, it was the boys who given preference over the girls to do the Computing.

Girls were expected to go off and do the typing at the boys do the computing, and there was no real good reason for Maths being a good skill to have in order to study computing because it's at about logic and keyboard skills at well, which funny enough, they seem to think girls can do.'

What advice would you give anyone thinking about a career in computing?

'Advice I would give to people thinking about computing as a future career is ........don't think of it as something boring and maths-orientated; it's about creativity and imagination and how you use something like a computer to make it do what you need for it to solve problems. '