chapter
Interview
ByMary S. Olmsted
Pages 5

In 1945, the State Department administered two sets of examinations for admittance into the Foreign Service Officer program. As a result of the first exam, one woman was admitted to the Department, and following the second, five additional women officers were selected. One of these women was Mary S. Olmsted. The narration of her career, which culminated in her being selected as the first American Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, includes many elements which are common to the general experiences of women at State. The culture and practices of the State Department led her in 1970 to become a member of the Ad Hoc Committee to Improve the Status of Women in Foreign Affairs Agencies, and subsequently to serve as President of the Women’s Action Organization. Both of these groups were instrumental in encouraging the State Department to discontinue discriminatory practices against women.