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Effective, but not the same: A Study of Female Diplomats’ Access to Information through Instrumental Ties

Conference contribution
Authors Birgitta Niklasson
Published in European Conference on Politics and Gender, panel “Gender and the Changing Dynamics of Diplomacy”
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Political Science
Language en
Keywords Gender – networks – homosociality – resources – Sweden – MFA - diplomacy
Subject categories Public Administration Studies


The aim of this study is to explore female diplomats’ access to information through their work-related ties. We still have very limited knowledge of how this group do their jobs and how they do so in a context strongly dominated by men. What challenges, if any, does this male dominated environment present to their access to important information? Based on 28 interviews with diplomats and civil servants, this study explores female diplomats’ access to homosocial and heterosocial ties and the quality of these in terms of formality. Ties to government representatives, other diplomats, and civil society in the receiving country are considered. The experiences of the respondents imply that the three most important factors for gaining access are the formal status as a diplomat, what country you represent, and what country you are posted in. Being a woman is only considered to be of marginal import. In many ways, it is believed to bring slight advantages, but there are also examples of how gaining access appears to present more of a challenge to female diplomats. The results also suggest that the quality of heterosocial ties between women and men may be different – that they are more likely to remain formal – something that may have an impact on the kind of information that passes through these ties.

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-05-27