Mentor and Professional Development Program

WIIS provides valuable services and resources to build a global network of women in the peace and security field, and increases the number and visibility of women across sectors and around the world. WIIS also educates and inspires women at all stages of their careers – the multigenerational aspect of its network is one of WIIS’ greatest strengths.

A key objective of WIIS’ Mentor and Professional Development (MPD) program is to increase the professional opportunities of women, focusing specifically on women at the mid and senior-levels. The MPD program helps women navigate real and presumed obstacles in their careers through the provision of a skill-building series, resource center, and promotion of a transparent network of leaders.


Gender Pay Gaps and Glass Ceilings: Why a Mentor and Professional Development program is needed

Over time the gender pay gap has slowed in its decrease and remained more prevalent in the higher echelons of professions. Each successive group of young women entering the workforce narrow the pay gender pay gap, moving a $0.36 gap in 1980 to $0.07 in 2012. However, while women worked to close the gender pay gap by $0.11 in the 1980's, there was only an increase of $0.03 in the 1990's and $0.06 in the 2000's.

Additionally, this decrease in the gender pay gap is only relevant to women at the early stages of their careers. In general, the gender pay gap grows as workers reach mid and senior levels. Young professionals tend to start their careers with comparable levels of earnings, but over time the gender pay gap grows. While some of the growth in the gender pay gap is because women are more likely to take time out of the labor force and work fewer hours, a pay gap remains even after accounting for time out of the workforce and job tenure. Women get fewer raises and promotions, partially because they negotiate less. But even when women do negotiate, they are likely to receive less than men or be penalized for violating social norms.

(Source: Eileen Patten, There’s More to the Story of the Shrinking Pay Gap (Pew Research, April 14, 2015); Betsey Stevenson, Five Facts About the Gender Pay Gap (the White House, April 14, 2015)


Skill-Building Series

The first component of this initiative is a skill-building series. Based on the results of a member survey, a series of professional development workshops will be facilitated to provide targeted training and knowledge on areas of greatest need. Possible skill-building exercises and trainings include leadership skills, interview techniques, presentation skills, best practices for career transitions, how to drive for results, strategic thinking and execution, cultivating a motivating and innovative workplace, problem-solving skills, team and relationship building, how to better utilize technical and technology skills, etc.


Upcoming events:

Recent events include:

Network Your Way to Success Workshop and Women Who Network Happy Hour (July 12, 2017)

Women in International Security (WIIS), The Brookings Institution's Women's Impact Network (WIN) and the Stimson Center hosted a skill-building workshop for women professionals to learn about tips and techniques to effectively network and manage relationships. The presentation, led by networking consultant Lori Saitz, focused on where to learn best practices for managing professional relationships and networks, including on how to build, maintain, and leverage a supportive system of colleagues and associates. A Network Happy Hour event, following the workshop, took place at Eighteenth Street Lounge. It encouraged participants to expand their network, apply the tips and tricks learned during the workshop, and meet other professionals working on or interested in women, peace, and/or security issues.

Financial Planning Workshop with FJY Financial! (June 7, 2017)

Women in International Security and FJY Financial hosted a financial planning workshop.  ​​According to a study by the American Economic Association, only 30% of Americans know how to properly manage their money. The presentation focused on how to enhance your financial intelligence, master best practices for managing money, learn how your money works for you, and gain practical retirement investment tips.

Learn to Lead through Public Speaking! (April 2017)

WIIS and LcHoesGroup hosted an interactive public speaking workshop. Understanding that effective presentation tools are essential in enabling women to become influential leaders, this engaging discussion introduced useful techniques to enhance approachability, adaptability, and confidence-building in the workplace.

How to Brand and Market Yourself for Success (May 2016)

One of the nation’s most experienced PR professionals Jennefer Witter, the CEO/Founder of The Boreland Group Inc., discussed what personal branding is, why it is especially important for women, and how to develop an effective one. She also addressed unconscious bias and why you need to know how it influences and shapes your brand. Jennefer presented a fascinating case study featuring a billion-dollar real estate broker based in Manhattan who uses her past military service in Israel's armed services as a keystone of her personal brand.

Salary Negotiation Seminar (November 2015)

Members of Women in International Security (WIIS) and the Women’s Mentor Network (WMN) invited members to participate in a seminar on salary negotiation. Participants learned techniques and tips for salary negotiation, and had the opportunity to practice newly learned negotiation skills in two exercises. This salary negotiation seminar was taught by Dr. Margaret New, founder and CEO of The Middleburg Group, LLC, a career coaching consultancy. In addition to 30 years of experience helping women one-on-one with job search skills and salary negotiation, Dr. New provides workshops and consults with the Foreign Service Institute.

Essential Management Skills Seminar (October/November 2015)

WIIS hosted  a seminar on essential management skills. Essential management skills covered in this skill-building seminar included: how to establish and achieve a results driven work environment (lower managers); and essential components for strategic thinking and execution (top level management).

Seminar on Presentation and Communication Skills (October/November 2015)

WIIS hosted a seminar on presentation and communication skills that provided members with the tools needed to strengthen and enhance their communication techniques. Presentation and communication skills discussed include: basics for public speaking and best practices in interpersonal communication; how to sell yourself and capabilities without being abrasive; how to make yourself memorable, etc.



Resource Center

A second component of this initiative is a resource center containing information about professional development for women within the peace and security field. Resource topics include: how to write a resume and cover letter; job searching tips; how to transition from an interview to paid position; interview techniques; negotiation skills; effective public speaking and presentation skills; best practices for building a network; and characteristics of an effective leader. These resources will be available separately on the WIIS website and compiled into a resource guide.



Career Navigation Series Series

The "Navigating Your Career" series seeks to help women navigate real and presumed obstacles in their careers. This series consists of panel discussions on how to navigate a career in a variety of sectors including intelligence and defense, women peace and security (WPS), diplomacy, development, and academia.


Upcoming events:

Professional Development Brown-Bag: Senior-Level UN Job Opportunities (June  2017)

Join UN Peace Operations, WIIS & WFPG for a brown-bag lunch and discussion with Kristina Koch, Chief of Recruitment Section for the UN Department of Field Support/Field Personnel Division, on:

  • How to apply for a job with UN Peace Operations
  • What to expect from a role in the field with UN Peace Operations
  • Re-opening of Senior Women's Talent Pipeline

The UN is seeking to broaden and deepen its talent pool of senior-level women candidates in the areas of political affairs, civil affairs, public information, rule of law, security institutions (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and security sector reform), and mission administration and support. These positions are Director-level (D1-D2) and require 15 or more years of professional experience. Building on past success, the UN is expanding its Senior Women's Talent Pipeline for these positions. Candidates accepted to the pipeline will receive tailored training and a strengthened understanding of the recruitment process for Peace Operations at the senior level.


If you have fifteen years of experience or more, we encourage you to RSVP at



Recent events include:

How to Conquer Career Change (May 2017)

WIIS hosted an interactive workshop on how to successfully navigate career transitions. The objective of this workshop was to provide guidance on the best practices for switching career paths or moving into new roles within the same sector. Participants gained expert advice and resources to pursue their career transition in a more strategic and effective manner. This workshop, led by Andrea Grant Wright of Lee Hechy Harrison and Stephenie Foster of Smash Strategies, served as a wonderful learning opportunity for WIIS members in pursuit of personal and professional development!

Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed in Academia (April 2017)

WIIS-DC, WIIS-GWU, and WIIS Global hosted a panel discussion on “Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed in Academia.” Participants learned how to navigate both real and perceived career obstacles in the academic field! During this engaging panel discussion, participants gained first-hand career advice from experienced and successful women. The panel featured 45 minutes of moderated discussion, followed by an audience question and answer session.

Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed at the State Department (October 2016)

WIIS-DC and WIIS Global hosted a discussion on "Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed at the State Department." This panel was the second event in the "Navigating Your Career" series. It served as a great opportunity for those interested in a career at the State Department to gain first-hand advice from experienced and successful women.

Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed on Capitol Hill (May 2016)

WIIS invited members to participate in an informative panel discussion on "Navigating Your Career: How to Succeed on Capitol Hill." This event kicked off a series of panel discussions on how to successfully navigate a career across different sectors. Panelists from both sides of the aisle shared their experience working as personal and committee staff, and provided advice for young professionals. This was a great opportunity for those interested in a career on Capitol Hill or in the security sector to gain first-hand career advice from experienced professionals through an informal and engaging discussion.



Network of Leaders

WIIS connects leaders across the globe to promote the advancement of women in the peace and security field. The WIIS network is mapped out to reflect the numerous institutions and organizations with WIIS members, illustrating the expansive character of the network. The WIIS network serves as a tool for leaders to collaborate, network, and expand their professional opportunities.

The third component highlights the organizations with WIIS members. Members have the opportunity to request informational interviews, job shadowing, intern positions, and collaborate with other organizations in the network.



Networking Happy Hours

Lastly, WIIS provides a forum for networking by hosting regular happy hours. Networking happy hours may feature a distinguished guest to provide remarks on a topic of their choice. Networking happy hours may also take place as an informal gathering, facilitated as a speed networking event, or contain an instructional briefing for best practices in networking before members mix and meet.


Upcoming events:

Please check back soon for more networking happy hours! 


Recent events include:

March 2, 2016: WIIS members had a great opportunity to have candid conversations and form both personal and professional relationships with established practitioners in the security and international affairs field. Participants were encouraged to invite friends and colleagues.

December 16, 2015: International security professionals from WIIS, Women in Defense, the Women's Mentoring Network of Brookings Institute, and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy met for a networking happy hour. Participants got into the holiday spirit as they met, mingled, and networked across organizations.

October 5, 2015: WIIS-DC hosted a networking happy hour to launch a new series of events they will hold over the coming months. Participants gathered at the bar of P.J. Clarke's (1600 K Street NW) on Monday, October 5th at 6:30pm (the Farragut North and West metro stops are the closest stations).


Partners and Supporters of the MPD Program

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