The real-life equivalent of Q in the James Bond films is a woman, the head of MI6 has said.
Alex Younger, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, made the revelation as he encouraged more women to join the service.
He said there is a stereotype that MI6 spies were posh and he wanted recruits from diverse backgrounds.
The character of Q, a technology expert, has always been played by a man in the Bond films.
Speaking at the Women in IT awards on Wednesday, Mr Younger said: "The real-life Q is looking forward to meeting you and I'm pleased to report that the real-life Q is a woman."
The MI6 chief said one of his priorities is to employ talent but "we've got to get over and see through the Bond thing".
He recognised that the fictional MI6 spy is great in some ways as it "means that all of our opponents think there's an MI6 officer behind every bush and that we're 10,000 times larger than we actually are".
However, he went on to say that the character leads to a stereotype of the "particular sort of person that will join MI6 - whether they're really posh or going to Oxford".
"The issue for me is that stands in the way of something that I regard as being so important, which is that we can reach into every community in Britain and make sure that we get the people that are the best regardless of their background," he added.
Mr Younger said he wanted to make MI6 even more diverse which would bring a full range of skills to the service and improve its decision-making.
He added: "The more different people you have in the room, in these high-pressure circumstances in which we operate, the better the decisions.
"So, success for me is a deeper, broader range of technological skills in MI6 and more diversity, in particular more women."