The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2021

28 JULY-AUGUST 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Kathryn Drenning is a member of the Executive Women @ State board and a Foreign Service officer currently serving in Riyadh. She wrote this article in consultation with the other members of the EW@S Board. A t his Senate confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated: “I’m committed to advanc- ing our security and prosperity by building a diplomatic corps that fully represents America in all its talent and in all its diversity: recruit- ing, retaining, promoting officers with the skills to contend with 21st-century challenges and who look like the country we rep- resent.” As the board of Executive Women @ State, one of the largest department employee affinity groups (EAGs) with more than 2,000 members, we can see the changes this administra- tion promised already underway. Women now lead the State Department as Deputy Secretary FOCUS PERSPECTIVES ON DIVERSITY & INCLUSION AchievingParity forWomen in the ForeignService A better understanding of the barriers to women’s advancement— and good data—is needed to continue moving forward. BY KATHRYN DRENN I NG of State, ambassador to the United Nations and under secretary of State for political affairs, among other senior positions. We applaud the appointments of these accomplished experts in foreign affairs. Secretary Blinken has expressed his support for diversity, equity and inclusion by appointing the first chief diversity and inclusion officer to oversee the department’s efforts, and by meeting with us and other EAGs. To be sure, this is not the first administration to envision a diverse Foreign Service. Yet despite this oft-repeated goal and nearly a century of effort, our diplomatic Service is far from fully representing American women’s talent and diversity. Women still comprise only 41.9 percent of Foreign Service generalists, 28.9 percent of Foreign Service specialists and 32.4 percent of the Senior Foreign Service (combined generalists and specialists). And while State continues to make progress on recruiting women, not nearly enough women are moving up the ranks. In 2020, women made up only 28 percent of ambassadors repre- senting the United States overseas, down from an already inad- equate 33 percent in previous years. Women of color and women with disabilities, in particular, have been noticeably excluded from these and too many other top positions.