Foreign ministers background in various countries

A while ago, I’ve subscribed to the newsletter Data Is Plural by Jeremy Singer-Vine. He informs his readers about interesting datasets. One of these datasets is about foreign ministers and their biographies. I’ve found it interesting to briefly look at the aspects gender and military education.


The following graph shows that the foreign affairs of every country are dominated by males. Germany, Netherlands and China had no female foreign minister as of today. Sweden quite known for female leaders and politicans takes the lead with seven female ministers.

foreign ministers gender

The dataset goes back till 1789, maybe the shares are more equal if I only look at the last 30 years? Well, in the second graph we see that this only true for a few countries. Sweden had more women leading the foreign ministry than men in the past 30 years, but this is not the rule for most countries.

foreign ministers gender 1990

Military education

I have the impression that Germans do not link the work of the foreign ministry with military activites. The first graph showing the share of foreign ministers with military background confirms this impresssion. The deviation from the other countries maybe roots in history e.g. the second world war. It is definitively remarkable by how much German foreign ministers differ in their background.

foreign ministers military education

A second time I want to look only at the most recent data from 1990 onwards. I had expected that the shares between Germany and the other countries would come closer, but the opposite is the case. If no research has been conducted on this aspect yet, someone should do it.

foreign ministers military education