Women and US foreign policy |


As of October 2013 the Women and US Foreign Policy Interview Project has come to a close.

This project promotes and facilitates research into US and gender politics by creating and sustaining an online repository of interview data relating to the multidimensional relationship between US foreign policy (USFP) and women. With the questions being informed by you, the community, the project becomes a repository of your research data. It will be freely available to scholars, the public, governments and NGOs. The increase in the number and rank of elite women in the US government is mirrored by an explicit gender agenda within US foreign policy, which aims to promote women’s rights. This resource will provide detail into this gender concerned foreign policy by questioning the people involved. To add a further dimension to the relationship between foreign policy and women this project also examines how USFP, and in particular regime change and democratisation, has directly impacted the lives of women in affected states. This examination is achieved by asking these women their experiences of USFP.

The project so far…

Because the project examines the relationship between women and USFP from both the foreign policy and gender perspectives, it has focussed on four categories of people and a series of interview questions which explore this multidimensional relationship. So far (March 2012), the project has concentrated on the first category of people, women involved in US foreign policy.

In each category there is a mix between general questions that cross a number of the categories, questions that are specific to the category, and those that are specific to the individual’s experiences. Categorisation is used to ensure that the experiences and knowledge a typical person in that category would have, are elicited. For example, a specific question would be to ask a woman directly affected by USFP what her experiences are as a result of USFP but not what is it like to develop USFP. However, we ask her and a woman involved in implementing USFP what their thoughts are on the success of external forces implementing projects aimed at democratising a country.

  1. Women involved in US foreign policy – in order to understand the experiences of women within the infrastructure of US foreign policy this project interviews women that have been decision-makers, policy-makers, practitioners, and either theorists, academics or analysts. There are four general themes to the questions:
    • General questions about their career, including personal experiences of gender discrimination.
    • Non-gender specific issues and events they were involved in during your FP-related career.
    • Experiences and knowledge of US engagement with gender issues in foreign policy.
    • Their views on recent US foreign policy related issues
  2. People involved in promoting a gender concerned foreign policy – in interviewing people in this category the aim is to illuminate the process and content of policies, strategies, programmes and projects that make up a gender concerned foreign policy. There are three general themes to the questions:
    • General questions on the person’s position and experiences whilst working in US foreign policy.
    • General questions on the implementation of gender-aware programmes and specific gender-based programmes.
    • Questions on the policies, strategies, programmes and projects that the interviewee is involved with that related to a gender concerned foreign policy.
    • [Note: when a woman is being interviewed, there is a crossover with the first category, and as such it will also include its respective range of questions].
  3. Women affected by US foreign policy – it is important to explore the attitudes and experiences of women that have been directly affected by the policies, strategies, programmes and projects implemented by the US.
    • These interviews will not be arranged until early 2013.
    • Advice from community required on the questions to ask and themes for interviews.
  4. Experts that can talk about the relationships between US foreign policy and women – this category provides further insight into the multidimensional role of women in US foreign policy. It does so by:
    • Contextualising the relationship between US foreign policy and women through detailing the inter-connecting relationships between the three other categories. For example, critiquing the process of a gender concerned programme development to implementation.
    • Looking critically at a specific aspect of one of the three categories. For example, one interview was with someone working for a DC-based think tank that partly worked on examining the conditions of women working for foreign policy-based US government departments.
    • Further advice from community required on the questions to ask and themes for interviews.

Why ask gender and non-gender specific questions?

Two key outcomes of this project are to elevate the experiences of women as well as their voices. Say for example, only gender specific questions had been asked of women involved in USFP then their views and experiences as practitioners, which is separate to their gender would be ignored. The project did not want to further perpetuate this narrow approach. Therefore, the project, in investigating this multidimensional relationship between USFP and women, asks both gender specific and non-gender questions.

Can someone be in more than one category?

Yes, people can cross-over into more than one category. A recent interview, for example, was with someone who could easily be counted in all four of these categories, but in different periods of her life. Madeleine Albright, the US foreign policy practitioner and policy-maker, the women’s rights implementer in foreign policy during her time as a US Ambassador to the UN and as Secretary of State, the daughter of a Czechoslovak dissident who was a recipient of US support during WWII and the Cold War, and finally as the academic examining foreign policy. Therefore, in interviews were there is crossover, questions are asked that respond to the needs of all the relevant categories.

“If you use me, then cite me!”

If you use the repository material in your research please thank the project through a citation and, or, bibliographic reference. For example, if you have used interview material relating to Madeleine Albright:

Albright, Madeleine [interviewee] (2011) Interview with Matthew Alan Hill, Women and US Foreign Policy Interview Project, Institute for the Study of the Americas. London, UK, 2 December.


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