324. Letter From the Ad Hoc Committee to Improve the Status of Women in the Foreign Affairs Agencies to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration (Macomber)1

Dear Mr. Macomber:

In response to your invitation for “openness” and the Department-wide review and discussions on the Task Force studies, the Ad Hoc Committee to Improve the Status of Women in the Foreign Affairs Agencies welcomes the opportunity to discuss with you on Wednesday some problems on the status of women.2

We are delighted with the appointment just made of Elizabeth J. Harper as chairman of the Department of State’s Women’s Program Committee. As she forms her Committee and draws up plans, we look forward to working with and through her in improving the status and employment opportunities of women in the Department.

The Ad Hoc Committee, formed in mid-July specifically to examine the Task Force reports for their implications and effect on the status of women, believes it must act independently of Miss Harper to assure your immediate consideration of our recommendations.

We present in an enclosure (A)3 a review we have made of the four Task Force studies (I, II, IV, and VI) which have particular significance [Page 720] to equal employment opportunities for women and their career development.

We make several recommendations chief among them being:

That the reports of the Task Forces be reviewed at once from the point of view of their inpact on the role of women in the foreign affairs agencies and necessary revisions made.
That a special Task Force be convened immediately to carry out this thorough-going review and revision.

Because the reports were made generally available only in mid-July, and because our group did not have or attempt to command the resources of the Task Forces themselves, our review is not comprehensive. We have, however, singled out certain major points which serve to illustrate the need for immediate discussion, clarification, or revision.

We are sure you will share our surprise at the marked minority position of women in the Foreign Service and the apparent inequities in their assignment and promotion as illustrated in Enclosure B. For example, men constitute 95.3 percent of the total Foreign Service Officer ranks; women, 4.7 percent. While the intake of women officers was approximately 10 percent of the total five years ago, this rate has dropped in the past two years to 7 percent. Out of 307 top positions (Ambassador, DCM, and Consul General) only two were held by women as reflected in May, 1970 statistics.

We believe that if the inequities which now appear to exist are to be redressed a conscious effort on the part of the Department must be made now while the Department-wide Task Force review is underway. We believe explicit language must be used in the Task Force studies which will embody the Department’s action plan for the ’70’s.

In short, just as the Department believes that its course for the ’70’s must be set by the Task Forces and cannot be delayed, we believe equally strongly that the course for women must be set concurrently.

We look forward to our meeting with you.

Sincerely yours,

  • Jean Joyce
  • Ruth Mosley
  • Mary S. Olmsted
  • Idris M. Rossell
  • Eleanor W. Savage
[Page 721]

Enclosure B


I. Relative Number of Women, July 1, 1970 (O/EP data)

Men Women
Total FSO Strength No. % No. %
3248 3,096 95.3 152 4.7

II. Relative Number of Women in Incoming Classes (BEX data)

Total Men Women % Women
FY 1969 89 83 6 7
FY 1970 102 95 7 7

III. Women in Top Career Assignments (May 1970 Foreign Service List)

No. of Positions Women Incumbents
Ambassador 124 2
DCM 117 0
Consul-General 66 0

Further, according to the best information available to us, recent personnel shifts have resulted in only 3 women counselors at any overseas post:

1 woman political counselor (Athens)

1 woman commercial counselor (Rome)

1 woman economic counselor (Mexico City)

In the Department, only 1 woman FSO is holding the rank of Deputy Assistant Secretary and no woman is serving as Country Director (one FSR serves as an Assistant Administrator).

IV. Relative Promotion of Men and Women FSO’s—4-Year Summary 1967–70 (Computation based on O/EP data)

[Page 722]
Class Number and Percent Promoted in 4-year Period
Men Women % Men % Women
CM 6 0 3.0 0.0
FSO–1 31 2 2.4 11.0
FSO–2 130 2 7.4 3.6
FSO–3 230 7 9.0 6.0
FSO–4 340 21 14.3 9.2
FSO–5 477 21 23.5 22.3
FSO–6 651 25 41.1 22.3
FSO–7 288 34 27.6 41.4
2,153 112
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Management, Management Reform Task Force Papers: Lot 74 D 394, Women’s Affairs. No classification marking. Copies were sent to State, USIA, AID, AFSA, and JFSOC.
  2. The establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee and its successor, the Women’s Action Organization, and the more general issue of women in the Department of State during the early 1970s are treated in detail in Homer L. Calkin, Women in the Department of State: Their Role in American Foreign Affairs (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1978), pp. 131–160.
  3. Not attached.