Is international relations too 'hard' for women?

Event details


Date & time

Wednesday 30 April 2014


JDB Miller Reading Room, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
ANU Canberra


Melissa Conley Tyler


Kerrie Hogan
+61 2 6125 2167

Decades after formal barriers were removed, women remain demonstrably underrepresented in senior positions in Australia's international affairs. A number of barriers remain which women and men should work together to overcome.

While women have been entering the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in equal numbers since 1985, they remain underrepresented in senior positions. In June 2012, less than a third of Australia's ambassadors and high commissioners posted abroad were women and women accounted for only 26 percent of the DFAT's Senior Executive Service. Similar results can be seen in think tanks, academia, non-profits and other sectors.

In a recent article €œIs international affairs too €˜hard' for women? Explaining the missing women in Australia's international affairs€ I and my co-authors Emily Blizzard and Bridget Crane look at some of the explanations for this. There is no evidence that women are less motivated or lack interest in international affairs. The problem instead is that the career pipeline is €˜leaky': women tend to disappear before they reach senior levels.


Melissa Conley Tyler was appointed National Executive Director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs in 2006. She is a lawyer and specialist in conflict resolution, including negotiation, mediation and peace education. She was previously Program Manager of the International Conflict Resolution Centre at the University of Melbourne and Senior Fellow of Melbourne Law School. She has an international profile in conflict resolution including membership of the Editorial Board of the Conflict Resolution Quarterly.  

In 2008 Ms Conley Tyler was selected as one of the nation's 1,000 €œbest and brightest€ to participate in the Australia 2020 Summit convened by the Prime Minister to discuss future challenges facing Australia. Later in 2008 she was selected by the Fletcher Alumni Association of Washington D.C. to receive its Young Alumni Award for most outstanding graduate of the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy under 40. She is a member of the International Advisory Council of the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy.  

During seven and a half years with the AIIA, she has edited more than 40 publications, organised more than 60 policy events, overseen dramatic growth in youth engagement and built stronger relations with other institutes of international affairs worldwide. Her recent research includes book chapters on Australian foreign policy making and Australia's role in the G20 and publications on public diplomacy and Australia as a middle power.  

With more than 15 years' experience working in community organisations in Australia, South Africa and the U.S.A., Ms Conley Tyler has a strong interest in non-profit management. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Charities Aid Foundation Australia, one of Australia's largest grant-givers, and the Committee of Management of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture.  

She is listed in Routledge's Who's Who in International Affairs and International Who's Who of Women.


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