The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

30 MARCH 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL # State Too The problem of sexual harassment is persistent and real at State. It’s time for meaningful change. BY L ES L I E BASSETT COVER STORY joined the Foreign Service in 1982, just a decade after women officers were no longer required to resign upon marriage. During my first tour I rebuffed the advances of a mar- ried male superior and—I thought—friend, who showed up uninvited at my home on his birthday, unexpectedly stuck his tongue in my mouth and assumed we would have sex as his present. When I declined, I was excluded from meetings and professional opportunities as he very publicly shunned me at both official and private events. I told no one. As I worked hard and rose up the ranks, supported by men- tors both male and female, I thought the stereotyping receded— though never vanished—in the face of my performance. Until the night when, as deputy chief of mission, I took a late-night phone call frommy boss, the ambassador. He was drunk and wanted to know what I was wearing. I Leslie Bassett retired recently from the Senior Foreign Service. A former U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, she has also served as deputy chief of mission in Seoul, Manila, Mexico City and Gaborone. She last wrote for the Journal in July/August 2017. Note: The quotes in the text boxes were provided in confidence to the author by former colleagues she respects and knows well. The comments are from six current State Department employees describing recent experiences. ENDING HARASSMENT AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT