Ambassador Martha Bárcena

Ambassador Martha Bárcena. (Image: Leigh Vogel)

Experiencias: Amb. Martha Bárcena on Getting More Women Sitting at the Table

Mexico’s top diplomat in Washington shares her thoughts on rising through the foreign service ranks and the challenges for gender parity today.

When her children were young, she took a leave from the Foreign Service for nine years. Knowing the difficulty of resuming work, she continued studying the entire time. She studied Chinese, wrote articles, and followed world affairs so that she could catch up easily when she went back. “Never stop learning and preparing yourselves,” she advised.

She said her supportive husband was also key for her continued success. She and her husband spent 12 years living in different countries and seeing each other only on the weekends. “You have the right and need to have an independent professional development,” she said, and advised people to find a partner with whom you can be mutually supportive, and who shares your vision of the world.

“Never stop learning and preparing yourselves.”

Segal and Bárcena discussed gender parity in trade negotiations, as well as the difference in approach. “There are still very few women seated at the table; there should be more,” noted Bárcena. The women also said that while men tend to be confrontational to solve a problem, women try to reach consensus and fix an issue before it becomes a problem. “Sometimes men confuse building consensus for weakness,” says the ambassador.

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This episode was produced by Luisa Leme, Sarah Bons, and Elizabeth Gonzalez. The music in this podcast was performed at Americas Society in New York. Learn more about concerts online at