chapter  3
17 Pages

From marriage bar towards gender equality

The experience of women in Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs 1970–2000
WithAnne Barrington

This chapter focuses on the experiences of women diplomats who entered the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland from 1970 to the year 2000, both at the headquarter level and while serving abroad. It aims to illuminate the different barriers and challenges they faced during this period, identify where progress has been made, and highlight potential routes of further development towards ensuring gender equality in the Irish Foreign Service. The chapter reviews the historical and constitutional context in which the Irish diplomatic service has operated, and a number different economic, social, and political influences. It addresses the importance of gender equality in the foreign service as whole. Respondents identified that working in a male-dominated work environment often meant they were at the receiving end of sexist behaviour and attitudes. As a diplomat, building networks and trust with both internal and external colleagues is integral to developing strong diplomatic relationships.