Here’s an entertaining piece by Olya Thompson about applying for the old Foreign Service. At that time the Department of State was actively discriminating against women, a matter that took many years of court proceedings to resolve.
(In 1985, 80% of the Foreign Service “professional staff” was male, and 72.5% was white male. Twenty years later, in 2005, the male/female ratio was 66/34, and white males constituted 54% of the total.)
Here’s an excerpt from that post:
Now I am told that no matter how hard I could have tried back then or how well I could have presented myself, it wouldn’t have made any difference. The interview was biased. I was wasting my time. Those objective-looking numerical scores I got turn out to have been a product of a very discriminatory process.
I cannot say I ever suspected a bias. The Foreign Service officers who interviewed me, all much older than I, seemed knowledgeable and professional. I was treated with coutesy and respect. There were no inappropriate questions or comments. The distribution of candidates seemed to imply that men and women were being treated equally. I did note there was only one woman among the interviewers, but I figured that ratio was changing as more women like me pursued professional goals.
I am left wondeing about this government that tells me now what its polite and couteous officials who still control access to power and jobs must have known and deliberately decided 10 years ago: That they were not hiring women. That we were merely being put through the paces. I am left wondering why, in this bureaucratic game of hot potato, I am the one left holding this letter that lays bare the disturbing consequences of their actions.
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