By Ana Suarez, Global Research Institute staff, based on interviews with Ola Pozor ’19 and John Teague ’19
Reading about the ways in which the field of international relations (IR) is male-dominated only offers a glimpse into the obstacles women face. Hearing directly from three prominent women within international relations, on the other hand, was a true eye-opener for Global Research Institute students Ola Pozor ’19 and John Teague ’19.
This past spring, Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America, Sarah Glass, USAID’S Acting Director of the Center for Transformational Partnerships, and Anne Coleman-Honn, Political-Economic Section Chief, U.S. Embassy of Moldova, participated in a panel on women in IR moderated by Sue Peterson, Wendy and Emery Reves Professor of Government and International Relations and Co-Director of the Global Research Institute.
Panelists discuss women in international relations. (L to R: Anne-Marie Slaughter, Sarah Glass, Anne Coleman-Honn, Sue Peterson)
The panelists touched on their own experiences with gender dynamics in IR and addressed the history and future of women’s roles within the field.
Pozor and Teague were initially interested in attending the event to learn about what it would be like to work in foreign diplomacy. To their surprise, the discussion not only piqued their curiosity, but it also inspired a new purpose and ignited exciting new possibilities for their respective career paths.
Pozor, despite being concerned with the uncertainties associated with post-graduate life, shared how the moderated discussion inspired her. “I don’t like what the world is like right now, especially given the rhetoric and culture surrounding women, but [the panelists] were so fierce and made me feel like I could do something.”
Her newfound inspiration was sourced from the stories that all three women shared on turning the tables and defying expectations. Slaughter explained that early in her career, she felt that she couldn’t affiliate herself with foreign diplomacy topics that were seen as “soft” and female orientated — such as health and education. While working with Secretary Hillary Clinton as Director of Policy Planning for the State Department, however, she realized that development and security were equally important topics. She emphatically told the audience that she had asked herself, “Why should I accept that guns and bombs are more important than food, water, health and education?” Her question called attention to gendered roles and areas of specialization that exist within the field.
Slaughter’s question resonated with students in the crowd, many of whom could be seen nodding along in agreement.
Both Pozor and Teague walked away excited to make their mark and grateful for the opportunity to hear from these leaders. Pozor shared how the event helped alleviate her career concerns, “It definitely calmed my fears afterwards and I was like, ‘Wow, I can do a lot more than I thought I could.’”
The panel exposed students to some of the truths and misconceptions surrounding gender in the workplace and the discussion was met with great enthusiasm. All three panelists encouraged students to keep the conversation alive beyond the event. John Teague expressed how listening to all three of the speakers’ experiences…enabled him to reevaluate his own perspective on the international relations field. “I came away from the panel…with a better appreciation for the responsibility I have as a male to advocate for and support women in the foreign policy community.”
W&M’s Global Research Institute is proud to be part of this discourse. A special word of gratitude goes to the three leaders who candidly shared valuable advice from their respective experiences, and to all the attendees whose engagement enriched the event.
For more information on similar upcoming events and discussions visit the Global Research Institute’s Facebook page.