Politicians and officials in the international affairs community widely acknowledge that there are few women in high-ranking Foreign Service positions, such as ambassadorships, and far fewer Black women. The US Department of State has sought to confront this challenge by implementing inclusion and diversity programs—such as the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program administered by Howard University and funded by the State Department—to attract young people, particularly minorities, to Foreign Service positions. Despite these efforts, recent data reveals racial disparities in Foreign Service positions persist. Only a handful of Black women in US foreign policy have held positions at the highest levels of the State Department, including ambassadorships. According to the latest figures, of the 2,363 US Ambassadors in history, only fifty-four have been Black women, just 2.3 percent. The number of Black women at the highest rank of the Foreign Service has been low up to this point and must be addressed because, as this paper discusses, their representation matters. Despite their small numbers and the obstacles they face, Black women’s symbolic and substantive representations are meaningful. This paper will first discuss and evaluate the lack of diversity in the appointment of Black women as ambassadors. Second, it will briefly discuss the history of past and present Black women ambassadors. Third, the paper provides recommendations and advocates for increased diversity and inclusion of Black women in the Foreign Service.


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pp. 73-84
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