For over 30 years, Women In International Security (WIIS) has worked to advance the role of women in national and international security. While much progress has been made, the number of women occupying prominent positions in foreign and defense policy remains limited. As a result, the role of women in decision making in foreign and defense policies is under-developed.
Indeed, while women constitute 40 percent of the Foreign Service officer corps, they hold only one-third of the chief of mission positions.1 Women make up 33 percent of the Department of Defense civilian staff and 18 percent of the DOD active duty officer corps, and they remain grossly under-represented at the highest ranks—less than 8 percent have the rank of general or flag officer.2 Women also remain under-represented as expert commentators in the media. Women accounted for just 24 percent of foreign affairs and national security experts invited to speak on major political talk shows.3 Manels— that is, event panels with only men—remain common in the United States, including in Washington, DC.4