Underrepresentation of Minorities and Women in the Foreign Service

T-NSIAD-89-49: Published: Sep 22, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 22, 1989.

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GAO discussed its report on the representation of minorities and women in the Department of State's Foreign Service. GAO noted that: (1) minority representation at State increased from 7 percent to 11 percent between 1981 and 1987, while white women continued to represent about 24 percent of the work force; (2) although State eliminated minority and white women underrepresentation for entry-level Foreign Service officers, minorities and white women represented only 4.1 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively, of senior positions in 1987; (3) 5 percent of minorities passed the Service's written examination, as compared to 20 percent of white applicants; (4) although State instituted a near-pass program in which it allowed 28 percent of minorities taking the Service's written examination to take an oral examination, minorities were less successful than whites in the oral examination; (5) the Service's review panel for officer candidates rejected minority candidates at a higher rate than it rejected white candidates; (6) minorities and white women were disproportionately assigned to administrative and consular work; (7) the Service granted tenure to higher percentages of white men than to minorities and white women; (8) State did not properly analyze its work force to establish hiring or promotion goals and did not analyze possible impediments to equal employment opportunity; and (9) State planned to alter its affirmative action plan, compile more information on applicants' race and gender, and redesign its written examination.

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