f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

May 6, 2006

Madeleine, the Georgetown Mafia, and Me

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 5:58 pm

Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about the remarkable change


in the role of women in the realm of diplomacy and international relations,


since I entered college in 1967, at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. 




My musing was touched off by Madeleine Albright’s appearance on the 


Charlie Rose Show on May 3, 2006 (guest host Andrea Mitchell; $.99


video download from Google.com). Albright was touting her just-released


book, The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God and World


Affairs. More musing was sparked yesterday, when I heard that British P.M.


Tony Blair had named Margaret Beckett Britain’s first woman Foreign Secretary


(BBC profile, May 5, 2006).



Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, mentioned that gender did not


seem at all relevant when Condoleeza Rice was named as President Bush’s top 


security advisor, nor when she was elevated to Secretary of State in 2005.  She


then noted that the State Department now had so many women in important staff


and policy positions, who have been educated at Georgetown, that they are called


the “Georgetown Mafia” within the Department. [Albright used the phrase to close


a commencement speech at Georgetown in 1999: “the best of luck and come to


the Foreign Service and join the Georgetown Mafia.”]   



Read on for the tale of how a Georgetown Mafia came about.  Let’s look at


Albright’s path and my own:






In 1963, Madeleine Albright gave birth to twins girls (Anne and Alice) and, in 1967,


her third daughter (Katharine) was born.  For the next eight years, she was very


busy working on a doctorate from Columbia University (awarded in 1976), while


raising her children, serving on the board (and then as the first woman Chairman)


of the Beauvior School and working on the Muskie and Mondale presidential cam-


paigns.  From 1976 to 1978, she served as Chief Legislative Assistant to Senator


Edmund S. Muskie, and then left to take a staff position at the National Security





In 1982, Albright came to Georgetown to teach.  In Madam Secretary : A Memoir


(2003), she explains [at 99 – 100]:


“My charge at Georgetown was threefold: teach, create the Donner
women’s program [established “to encourage women to enter interna-
tional relations”], and serve as a role model for the young women there.
I believed that if women were to compete with men in the international
arena, they needed to receive an education that prepared them for every
challenge, including those no woman had faced before.”


In contrast, here’s my tale for the same time period:


1963 – 1967  newspaper carrier, high school student
1967 to 1971  student at GU School of Foreign Service
1973 – 1976  law student
thereafter — practiced law for 20 years, with no international
                relations subject matter;
currently — occasionally offer amateur punditry on international
                affairs issues; still wish there were more women around


Back to the issue of gender and international affairs:  When I headed off to


Washington, D.C., in early September, 1967, I had all the usual hopes and


worries of a college freshman.  One thing seemed strange about the SFS:


only 20 of the 220 freshman were female.  For a guy who was shy in the


dating depatment that was not a good sign.


             dagosan 1971


Things moved rapidly at that time.  With the Vietnam War becoming a very


hotly disputed issue, many classmates found ourselves disillusioned with the


whole notion of — in the words of the SFS catalogue — “promoting and protecting


the nation’s international interests” through foreign service.  (see Washington Post,


“GU Foreign Service School Seeks Identity,” March 24, 1970, which noted a 21


percent drop in applications to SFS in the past year, and quoted an idealist 21-year–


old chap named David Giacalone, who decried the School “making us agents of Amer-


ican foreign and economic policy” and hoped SFS graduates could go out into the


international realm as “world citizens.”)



Several agitators (on a rather conservative and apathetic campus) started to 


seek more student input in course requirements and content.  My own inter-


est in broadening the notion of “international service” led me to run for the very


first elected student seat on the SFS Executive Committee, which was the School’s


policy-making board. [The first student on the Committee had been appointed the 


prior year.]  It was 1970. When I won (and I truly can’t remember if any one else


even wanted the position), I found myself in the lofty company of all the department


heads, the Dean, and a few other venerable faculty members.  It was a bit stressful,


especially since none of the other Executive Committee members looked like this


Luckily, my academic reputation was excellent, and my demeanor respectful, and


there were some friendly faces on the Committee, including the Dean. 






By that time, I had learned that the paucity of female SFS students was not due


to a lack of applicants, but was caused by a quota — only 10% of the student body


was allowed to be female.  (This was before federal laws banned such gender dis-


crimination.)   My first proposal to the Executive Committee, therefore, was that


acceptance to the School be gender-neutral.   The reaction from the “conservative”


and “traditionalist” members of the Committee (even a woman or two) was strong


and emphatic:


“There are no jobs for women in the diplomatic field.  (E.g.,
Many countries would not accept women in American diplo-
matic positions.)  Therefore, it would be extremely unfair to
young women to hold out the false hope of careers in inter-
national relations by accepting them in large numbers to
the School of Foreign Service.”


I literally cannot remember how the voting broke down (I never kept a diary and


there were no personal computers, much less weblogs).  Nor can I say what argu-


ments saved the day — although I’m betting the sharp dropoff in applications had 


swayed a few minds.  Nonetheless, my proposal was eventually adopted.  The


oldest and largest school of international relations in the nation would henceforth


have a gender-neutral admissions policy. 


                     femaleSym “malesym”


The change was not quick enough to help my social life.  A decade later,


when Madeleine Albright came to the School of Foreign Service, and created


the Donner Foundation to encourage women to enter the field, there was a


student body at the SFS that had a significant female presence, and a sizeable


cadre of well-educated women were ready to enter into the foreign service, and to


take public, private, and nonprofit positions in the field of international relations.



Yes, the change in admissions policy and in gender equality at the State Depart-


were certainly inevitable.  Nonetheless, I’m proud to have played a part in helping


to lay the foundation for the Georgetown Mafia.  



If you educate them [and they take advantage of opportunities, work extremely hard, and 


have mentors]  they will thrive.  An important notion for many aspects of


our often unjust and unfair world.



podium sf



afterthought (10 AM):  You’ll have to decide for yourselves whether the following


excerpts from Albright’s Madam Secretary : A Memoir [at 100 – 101] are — or should


be — analogously applicable to the legal profession in the 21st Century:


“I taught classes on international affairs to women and men, drawing
on what I had learned in the Carter White House. . . . I had female
students play roles they wouldn’t have had at that time in government
and had male students report to them.  I invited women professionals to
discuss their varied and jagged career patterns to illustrate that the shor-
test distance between two points might not be a straight line.” . . .
“I discussed the difficult choices women face and implored my students
not to let others see the chips that might have settled on their shoulders —
especially during job interviews.  I spoke with passion about how women
must make sure not to push the ladder of success away from the building
after they have climbed to the top but must help each other succeed.”
[Ed. Note:  Is Albright being too hard on herself when she adds:]   podiumS
“I was confident about the logic of all this, but my shift in marital status
[with her divorce finalized] had in my own mind made me lose credibility.
When my students asked how I had managed to be married and have
children and work at the same time, I felt like a phony because I hadn’t


p.s.  If anyone reading this post has further details (or any corrections) on the topic


of SFS’s admission quotas or goals concerning women, please let me know.





fund drive
the ivy covered building
has a new name
new dean
all blackboards
turn white
windowless classroom
the blank look
same as last term
around and around
learning the names
of one way streets
winfow box —
between flowering pansies
my daughter’s face

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