Page 39 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
MAY 2013
39
HOWARE
FS WOMEN
AT STATE FARING?
The importance of State’s mission demands
that we ensure talented female FSOs
have the opportunity to reach for,
and grab, the brass ring.
BY MARGOT CARR I NGTON
FOCUS
DIVERSITYWITHIN THE FOREIGN SERVICE
A
FSA State Vice President Louise Crane
posed a provocative question in her January
2005
Foreign Service Journal
column: “How
Are Foreign Service Women at State Far-
ing?” Her fndings indicated women were
being promoted within the Senior Foreign
Service at rates equal to those of men, yet
proportionately fewer women than men were being selected
for chief-of-mission positions.
Margot Carrington is an FSO on assignment in the Ofce of Rightsiz-
ing. A public diplomacy ofcer, she previously served in several posts in
Japan and Malaysia. While serving as the frst female principal ofcer
with children in Fukuoka, she was a frequent speaker on women’s
issues. During her 2010-2011 Una Chapman Cox Sabbatical Leave
Fellowship, Ms. Carrington researched issues related to women’s
advancement, and was State’s Fellow to the International Women’s Fo-
rum Leadership Foundation. She is also a board member of Executive
Women at State and a founding member of Balancing Act. Te views
expressed here are her own.
At the time Ms. Crane wrote her commentary, women rep-
resented 30 percent of the Senior Foreign Service. Eight years
later, that fgure has barely budged, and women continue to be
underrepresented among the ranks of principal ofcer, deputy
chief of mission and chief of mission positions. Terefore,
the question must be asked again: How are Foreign Service
women at State faring?
After starting from a low base (due, in part, to a longstand-
ing policy requiring female FSOs to resign upon marriage), by
1990 women comprised just 13 percent of the Senior Foreign
Service—even though they represented 25 percent of the
Foreign Service generalist corps. Te proportion of women in
the senior ranks gradually rose, but took until 2005 to break
the 30-percent mark. Te number has hovered there ever
since, even though women now make up 40 percent of Foreign
Service generalists.
Fortunately, the State Department is making signifcant
eforts to create a more diverse environment. Our recruiters
and Diplomats in Residence strive to attract new recruits who
better refect the face of America, as mandated by the Foreign