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City of Men

Author: Micah Zenko, Douglas Dillon Fellow
July 14, 2011
Foreign Policy

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Anyone who has sat through a meeting in Foggy Bottom or attended a foreign-policy think-tank luncheon near Dupont Circle has been struck by one obvious fact: Washington is a city of men. But rarely are these anecdotal impressions supplemented with any actual data.

To get a sense of the scope of this problem, I looked at the gender breakdown at 10 prominent think tanks with a substantial foreign-policy focus. After crunching the numbers, which were culled from their publicly available rosters, I found that women constituted only 21 percent of the policy-related positions (154 of 723) and only 29 percent of the total leadership staff (250 of 874). The Center for Strategic and International Studies and Center for American Progress boasted the highest percentages of women in policy-related roles (28 percent), and the Stimson Center had the highest total percentage of women in all positions (50 percent).

A note on methodology: "Policy-related" positions are classified as leadership roles (directors, presidents, and fellows) within departments such as foreign policy and economic policy -- the latter is included because many fellows contribute equally to domestic as well as international economic policy. "Total leadership staff" includes people in senior positions in non-policy roles such as human resources, development, and communications, which play an essential role in developing and implementing think tanks' programs.

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