The benefits - free housing overseas, relative job security, meaningful work in interesting places, a pension after twenty years of service - are solid.
Very equitable work place
Practically, the Foreign Service is a good job. The USG pays for your housing, utilities, and moves your stuff around for you. But day-to-day all depends on your boss and the leadership in your Embassy. While women are represented in all roles, their ideas are seen as soft... until a man mentions the same idea, then it is considered "strategic." Women have to adapt in this organization in order to have their ideas, initiatives, etc. heard and implemented. This is especially true if the Ambassador and DCM are men.
this is the government. you will make the same money, but you will not be treated the same. if you do high-level management work, you will still be seen as a clerk. if you are a man, you have initiative; if you are a woman, you are pushy. the work is still worth doing, but you need to be able to handle this stuff.
As you become more senior, be prepared to be the only woman in a room of 10-20 men. Be prepared to witness your male colleagues being praised for simultaneously juggling parenting and work, especially when adversity hits (like a child sick day or a pregnant spouse) but don't expect your male colleagues to recognize your efforts to manage workplace and home commitments.
Its not perfect, but the Foreign Service generally recognizes hard work and intelligence. While there will always be some who won't overcome their own biases, I think overall the work is great and I'm recognized for my contributions. Some bureaus are better than others, but the ones I've worked in have been positive experiences. I came from another agency prior to the FS and had a much different experience -- lots of entrenched bias and a view that women were all support staff. Again, not from everyone, but the attitudes were allowed to be expressed openly and were palpable.
In general I do like my position and it is good for my career. However, from a female perspective, there are a lot of old white men in leadership positions. My office has taken some steps to address this, but it is hard and progress is slow; they have some difficulty recognizing some of their blindspots. I've noticed that when fellow female colleagues suggest an idea, it is often not heard until a male colleague seconds it or basically says the same thing. I've also seen women in the 30-40 range assumed to be interns or students, referred to as 'young', and have not seen this for men. I've noticed in my office women with advanced degrees are called by their first name while men with advanced degrees are more often called by their advanced degree titles + surname.
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