The Foreign Service Journal, May 2013

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 findings 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 Office of Rightsiz- ing. A public diplomacy officer, she previously served in several posts in Japan and Malaysia. While serving as the first female principal officer 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. The 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 figure has barely budged, and women continue to be underrepresented among the ranks of principal officer, deputy chief of mission and chief of mission positions. Therefore, 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. The proportion of women in the senior ranks gradually rose, but took until 2005 to break the 30-percent mark. The number has hovered there ever since, even though women now make up 40 percent of Foreign Service generalists. Fortunately, the State Department is making significant efforts to create a more diverse environment. Our recruiters and Diplomats in Residence strive to attract new recruits who better reflect the face of America, as mandated by the Foreign