New UK ambassador to France means women hold all key postings


Several women now hold UK ambassadorships in all the world’s key postings after the role in Paris was given to Menna Rawlings, the first female appointee in British history.


It comes after Boris Johnson’s government was criticised for being “incredibly blokey” – in the six other countries in the G7 group of top industrialised nations.


Rawlings, who replaces the former chief of staff to David Cameron, Ed Llewellyn, has been preceded by 43 male British ambassadors in Paris.


UK ambassadors in Berlin, Tokyo, Washington, Canberra, Beijing, Paris, Rome, Moscow and the United Nations in New York, among other places, are all women.


Until 1946, the Foreign Office banned women from diplomacy and until 1973 it required them to resign if they married. The first married female ambassadors were not appointed until 1987, 12 years after Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative party.


Key Commonwealth postings include Victoria Treadell as high commissioner to Australia, Catriona Laing representing the UK in Nigeria and Susan Jane le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, who is UK high commissioner in Canada.


The Foreign Office says that in the past decade the number of female heads of mission has tripled from 22 to more than 60 but it has only really been in the past five years that the most senior jobs have been given to women.


The Conservative party has yet to appoint a female foreign secretary. The only female foreign secretary has been Margaret Beckett, appointed by Labour's Tony Blair.