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JUNE 2015


Lia Miller, an FSO since 2003, is a Pickering Graduate

Fellowship alumna and the communications chair of the

Pickering and Rangel Fellows Association. She currently

works in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. In

Washington, she has also served in the Operations Center, the Public

Affairs Bureau, the Office of Middle East Transitions and in the Office

of Maghreb Affairs. She has served overseas in Tunisia, Nicaragua and



he Foreign

Service is the

face of America

around the world,

both literally and


Yet while three

women and two


cans have served as Secretary of State in the

past 20 years, the U.S. diplomatic corps is

not so diverse. Historically, and for the bulk

of its existence, the U.S. Foreign Service was

comprised of upper-middle class white males. This trend held true

until the mid-to-late 1970s, when the State Department developed

programs and launched various initiatives designed to ensure that

U.S. embassies and consulates around the world look like America:

diverse andmulticultural. The goal remains an ambitious one, and

the results so far have beenmixed.

The State Department has had great success in recent decades

attracting growing percentages of female officers. The trends

for both Foreign Service officer and specialist A-100 orientation

classes reflect increasing numbers of females in each class. In

2014, one A-100 class (the 178th) hadmore women thanmen

(52 women, 48 men). In general, however,

despite the narrowing gap, most classes

remainmale majority. Overall, women

represent nearly 40 percent of all active-duty

officers. But there is still work to be done; a 2010 study by Women in International Secu- rity documents “a pronounced and persisten


gender gap in the Senior Foreign Service.”

In recent years, State has done well in

recruiting officers from a wide variety of

backgrounds through the effective use of

internship programs. However, when you

look at the mid-level and senior ranks,

the numbers are nowhere near what they should be. Eighty-two

percent of current FSOs are European-Americans and they hold 86

percent of senior staff positions at State.

These percentages are not representative of a country that is

17 percent Hispanic, 14 percent African-American and 5 percent

Asian-American. Minority groups in the State Department continue

to be severely underrepresented: For example, African-Americans

make up just 5.4 percent of Foreign Service officers and hold just

5.6 percent of senior staff positions; Hispanics make up 5.1 percent

of Foreign Service officers and 4.5 percent of senior staff; and Asian-

Americans constitute only 6.8 percent of FSOs and hold amere 3.8

percent of senior staff positions. These numbers are incontrovert-

ible evidence that State has muchmore work to do to encourage

minority advancement and representation at the highest levels.

Standing Together

The State Department does support the efforts of affinity groups

to foster minority advancement and success. I liken these organiza-

tions to the clubs found on any college campus that cater to various

groups. For African-Americans, there is theThursday Luncheon

Two innovative

programs—the Thomas

R. Pickering Fellowship

and the Charles B. Rangel

Program—have helped

bring diversity to the

Foreign Service, but

challenges remain.


Toward a Foreign Service

Reflecting America