The Gendered Networking of Diplomats

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
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  • 1 University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Summary

The aim of this study is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the gendered condi- tions under which diplomats network. We still have limited knowledge of how female diplomats network when serving abroad in strongly male-dominated contexts. To what extent do they experience token tendencies (visibility, assimilation and contrast) and how are these tendencies perceived to affect their access to important contacts? Based on 28 interviews with diplomats and civil servants from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA), this study compares how female and male diplomats are expected and perceived to network. The results indicate that the greater visibility of female diplomats makes them assimilate to a stereotypical gender role that closely resembles that of diplomatic wives. Women thus legitimise their presence in the MFA and make it less intrusive. Still, they experience contrast in silent resistance and con- stant reminders of their presence in a gender-inappropriate profession.

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