Page 45 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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MAY 2013
employee to accept the overseas assignment. But they often
extend such assistance to creating employment opportuni-
ties or outright remuneration for the spouse or partner to
make up for the loss of income inherent in the employee’s
accepting an overseas assignment. Although this approach
may be hard to envision in our current budgetary environ-
ment, it’s a tool we may need to add to our arsenal if we want
to facilitate women’s advancement at State.
To fnd out more about how all of these factors afect
female FSOs, we should emulate the best practice of other
employers by soliciting employee opinions about these
matters. In 2010, women at State were polled by a group
called Women in International Security (now based at the
Center for Strategic and International Studies) for a study
on “Women in Peace and Security Careers” that sought to
improve the recruitment, retention and advancement of
women at State, the intelligence agencies and the Depart-
ment of Defense.
Women at State (both Civil and Foreign Service) reported
being forced to make difcult tradeofs between their profes-
sional and personal lives, including turning down career-
enhancing opportunities for family reasons. Others felt that
they had been passed up for assignments based on their
gender and/or family status, while women without children
reported that they more than likely would not have achieved
their career success had they not been childless.
While some might argue that these are common chal-
lenges for working women, the authors of the study reported
to me that the morale of women at State seemed to them to
be lower than that of their counterparts elsewhere in the fed-
eral work force. Te most alarming of the WIIS fndings was
that women were leaving State just when they had the most
to ofer us, often for reasons that could be addressed through
the types of policies outlined here.
Given our experience gap at the mid-level and the sub-
stantial taxpayer investment in hiring and training female
FSOs, we need to pay greater attention to how they are faring
and bring our policies into greater alignment with today’s
best practices. With women now outperforming men in
earning post-secondary degrees, we should expect ever-
greater numbers of talented women to join our ranks.
Te importance of State’s mission to help build a more
democratic, secure and prosperous world demands that we
ensure talented Foreign Service women live up to their full
potential—and have the opportunity to reach for, and grab,
the brass ring.
Association for Diplomatic
Study and Training (ADST)
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ernmental, nonproft organi-
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Department’s Foreign Service
Institute. Founded in 1986,
ADST advances understand-
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affairs personnel. We sponsor a publishing program and
our collection of more than 1800 oral history interviews
includes such fascinating interviewees as Prudence
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Excerpts from the collection highlight the monumental,
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