Susan Rice NSA: Will She Help Women Finally Be Taken Seriously On National Security?

Last week, President Obama named U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as his national security advisor, only months after Rice pulled her bid for secretary of state after her role, albeit a minor one, in the Obama administration's Benghazi talking-points misstep gave congressional Republicans the ammunition needed to block her confirmation.

By appointing Rice as his National Security Advisory, President Obama has made his latest move in his game of chess with congressional Republicans and simultaneously has added another woman to the growing list of intelligent, tough, and politically savvy women taking on leadership roles in the male-dominated field of defense. 

The history of women working in the field of defense has been long and complicated. Despite the instrumental role women played in the war effort during World War II (including in the construction and testing of artillery, planes, and tanks), the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, and the key defense and intelligence roles played by women during the last century, the fields of national security and defense have largely been occupied by men.

More recently, however, we have seen significant strides made in regards to women holding key defense-related positions and advocating for defense-related issues. With the ban lifted on women taking combat roles in the military, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-N.Y.) effort to bring the issues of rape and sexual abuse in the military to the forefront of discussions regarding national defense, Janet Napolitano currently serving as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and two consecutive terms of a woman holding the position of secretary of state (Former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice and Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton), the field of defense is ripe for women's involvement.

Rice's resume not only speaks for itself, but also provides an example of how women can become involved with and succeed in the field of defense. Rice earned degrees from New College at Oxford and Stanford University before serving the Clinton administration in numerous capacities at the National Security Council from 1993-1997. She served as the managing director and principal at Intellibridge from 2001-2002, joined the Brookings Institution as a senior fellow in the foreign policy program in 2002, and served as foreign policy advisor to both the Kerry and Obama campaigns before she was nominated by President Obama to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2008.

While women in politics are often pressured to focused on children, education, families, and healthcare to soften their image, Rice — like Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice — has taken on national security, defense, and foreign policy as her issues of choice despite thinly veiled sexist attacks on her character. (Yes, I’m calling you out, David Rothkopf —I doubt you'd ever tell a man in her position to "dial back the bravado and contentiousness" when working on issues of national security).

While Rice may not be the sole reason more women are taking an interest in defense related work, she is one of the trailblazers leading the way. She is tough, savvy, can admit when she is wrong or has made a mistake (but does not dwell on her mistakes), is loyal, and, above all, has her hand on the pulse of foreign policy, which directly affects national security and defense. Her career path serves as an example for women (and especially for young women of color) who are interested in careers in foreign policy, national security, and defense.

Many women — and men — were understandably frustrated when Rice pulled out of the bid for secretary of state and President Obama replaced a middle-aged woman of color with an older white man. However, as President Obama's national security advisor, Rice will have daily, direct contact with the president and play arguably the most important role in shaping the president's policies on national security, which are in desperate need of revision.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Tracey Vitchers

Tracey is a feminist blogger for PolicyMic.com. Previously, Tracey wrote for The Huffington Post and Feministing's Community Blog. Her articles have been featured in Potentia Magazine, Feministing's Daily Feminist Cheat Sheet, and the Women's Campaign Fund newsletter. She has been quoted by MSNBC for her work with Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER) and was featured on The Sean Hannity Show for her coverage of the Occupy Movement in September 2011. Tracey holds a Bachelor of the Arts in Women's Studies and English from Williams College and a Masters of the Arts in Comparative Women's Studies from Utrecht University. She has worked with numerous nonprofit organizations in project management, business development, communications, and public relations capacities. In her free time Tracey enjoys hiking with her dog, assembling Ikea furniture, and drinking coffee. Tracey works in New York City, but lives in the woods of Pennsylvania.

MORE FROM

'Hot Mic' podcast: GOP Senate health care, Comey tapes, 2016 election data stolen

The important stories to get you caught up for Friday

Watchdog groups sue Trump for deleting tweets, allegedly violating Presidential Records Act

Trump's deleted tweets may come back to haunt him.

Grizzly bear protections in Yellowstone National park are ending

A final ruling by US government officials will strike the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the list of threatened species after its population increased to 700.

Another day, another off-camera White House press briefing

The move to scale back on-camera press briefings comes amid Trump's increasing unwillingness to interact with the press.

Minneapolis might get a $15 minimum wage, but restaurant workers aren't celebrating

Discord has been brewing in Minneapolis over whether tipped work will be counted toward a $15 minimum wage.

These abysmal new poll numbers for House health care bill don't bode well for Senate version

Only 34% of Republicans approve of the new proposed law.

'Hot Mic' podcast: GOP Senate health care, Comey tapes, 2016 election data stolen

The important stories to get you caught up for Friday

Watchdog groups sue Trump for deleting tweets, allegedly violating Presidential Records Act

Trump's deleted tweets may come back to haunt him.

Grizzly bear protections in Yellowstone National park are ending

A final ruling by US government officials will strike the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the list of threatened species after its population increased to 700.

Another day, another off-camera White House press briefing

The move to scale back on-camera press briefings comes amid Trump's increasing unwillingness to interact with the press.

Minneapolis might get a $15 minimum wage, but restaurant workers aren't celebrating

Discord has been brewing in Minneapolis over whether tipped work will be counted toward a $15 minimum wage.

These abysmal new poll numbers for House health care bill don't bode well for Senate version

Only 34% of Republicans approve of the new proposed law.