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Breaking ProtocolAmerica's First Female Ambassadors, 1933-1964$
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Philip Nash

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813178394

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813178394.001.0001

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Frances E. Willis

Frances E. Willis

Switzerland, 1953–1957, Norway, 1957–1961, and Ceylon, 1961–1964

Chapter:
(p.161) 7 Frances E. Willis
Source:
Breaking Protocol
Author(s):

Philip Nash

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813178394.003.0008

This chapter traces the career of Frances E. Willis, the first US female ambassador to have emerged from the career Foreign Service. After earning a PhD in political science, Willis became just the third woman to enter the US Foreign Service (1927) and slowly ascended through the ranks despite blatant sex discrimination. Named by Dwight D. Eisenhower ambassador to Switzerland (1953–1957, a time during which Swiss women could not yet vote) and then Norway (1957–1961), and by John F. Kennedy as ambassador to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka, 1961–1964), Willis served in the Foreign Service for thirty-seven years. While prone to micromanagement (the result of rules mastery adopted as a bureaucratic self-defense practice), Willis received high marks from superiors and host countries alike, even when called upon to promote controversial US policies.

Keywords:   Frances E. Willis, Switzerland, Norway, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Women in US Foreign Service, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy

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