Ms. Magazine essay examines challenges for women of color in defense and foreign relations careers

January 18, 2018

In a recent article for Ms. Magazine, Sasakawa USA Program Assistant Brittney Washington outlines some of the challenges unique to women of color as they pursue careers in defense and foreign relations.  Washington, who co-wrote the piece with Jeesue Lee, a former researcher at the Center for a New American Security, discusses the importance of diversity and inclusion in the national security sector in “To Pluck a Brown Feathered Goose: On Being a Woman of Color in National Security.”

The challenges identified by Washington and Lee include a lack of same-sex, same-race mentors to help young women of color navigate a competitive, exclusive field:  “Networking is a significant part of the day-to-day hustle in the national security field…but while getting business cards and shaking hands can seem simple, networking demands a degree of relational responsibility and trust that may not be immediately available to young women of color. Having women of color mentors who are in mid-career and senior level positions are key to gaining perspective on how to navigate this field—yet those would-be mentors are few and far between.”

Washington and Lee encourage the policy community to evaluate and implement policies that support inclusion in federal agencies and change workplace practices that perpetuate stereotypes and biases against women of color. They conclude that “eliminating the barriers to greater representation for and inclusion of women of color in national security is good news for everyone: Government agencies will be more inclusive and representative of the population that they serve, and decision-making and diplomatic solutions will be enriched by a diversity of thought and experience.

Read the complete article, “To Pluck a Brown Feathered Goose: On Being a Woman of Color in National Security” on the Ms. Magazine website.

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