1. About
  2. Methodology
  3. Key Findings & Analysis
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  1. About
  2. Methodology
  3. Key Findings & Analysis
Tracker home

The 2023 LCWINS Tracker


The LCWINS Tracker identifies progress toward our goal of gender parity across 500 senior leadership positions with meaningful influence on U.S. national security and foreign policy. This publicly available resource will enable researchers, campaign and transition team staff, policymakers, members of the media, and the public to better understand our country’s progress toward women’s full participation in national security and foreign policy decision-making.‍

This project is a critical part of the LCWINS mission to advance gender parity in U.S. national security and foreign policy leadership. It began in 2020 with the LCWINS Pledge, a commitment to gender parity in senior national security leadership roles made by presidential candidates from both parties. Annual updates to the LCWINS Tracker will allow the public to monitor each administration’s progress toward that commitment.

In keeping with our mission, the LCWINS Tracker is focused on gender inclusion. This resource does not currently include information on racial diversity or inclusion. We recognize the importance of diversity in all its forms and are exploring ways to leverage this resource to support expanded analysis with, by, and for additional communities.


The LCWINS Tracker is built upon a list of positions across the federal government that we identified as of senior leadership rank and with an impact on U.S. national security. People in these roles regularly find themselves in decision-making settings; therefore, it is here that gender parity has the greatest opportunity to strengthen the security and position of the U.S. in the world.

what we track:

We define “senior leadership” as positions with a hierarchical rank of Deputy Assistant Secretary and above, as well as equivalent roles with variations of related titles. The specific positions included meet that rank and have titles that fall within nine hierarchical groups:

  1. Secretary, Agency Head
  2. Deputy Secretary
  3. Under Secretary
  4. Assistant Secretary
  5. Deputy Assistant Secretary, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Deputy Under Secretary
  6. Chief of Staff
  7. Envoy, Representative, Coordinator
  8. Director, Senior Director
  9. Other (e.g. Deputy Inspector General, Chief Operating Officer, etc.)

Note that we track American ambassadors serving in U.S. overseas embassies, but we do not include those positions in the overall numbers for the Tracker, Diplomacy field generally, or State Department specifically. These positions are important for the implementation of American foreign policy, but those roles within the central State Department in Washington, DC have greater influence on policy debate and adoption. We also monitor National Security Council membership. Instead of including this group collectively, those positions are tracked within their respective departments, agencies, and offices.

We define six broad categories of responsibility into which all tracked positions fall:

  1. Defense & Security – Military department leadership, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
  2. Diplomacy – The State Department, U.S. Representatives to the United Nations, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), and Peace Corps.
  3. The Intelligence Community – The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).
  4. The National Security Council – The National Security Council (NSC) Staff at the White House.
  5. Finance & Banking – The Departments of Commerce and Treasury, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Export-Import Bank, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and U.S. representatives to international development banks.
  6. Other – This group includes agencies not traditionally considered to be directly responsible for national security but which house positions of impact at the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Energy. In addition, it includes the Offices of Management and Budget (OMB), National Cyber Director (ONCD), and Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).


The data presented and analyzed here is current as of September 30, 2023. To view the numbers represented in a chart or graph, click “Get the Data” on the bottom of each.

As of publication, the complete list of 500 positions includes 27 roles that are vacant or unknown and 36 roles currently performed by public servants in an acting capacity. Each chart demonstrates the number of filled, acting, and vacant or unknown positions if applicable and their respective gender representation overall. Senate-confirmed and nominated positions identify active, confirmed public servants and those awaiting confirmation.

To populate the LCWINS Tracker, our research team identified and verified each position’s incumbent by referencing department, agency, and office websites, Congress.gov, LinkedIn, a third-party proprietary database, and Wikipedia. We also vetted the final data with current and former members of each department, agency, and office.

The 2023 LCWINS Tracker is a snapshot of one moment in a four-year administration. It does not include appointees whose tenure began and ended before September 30, 2023, nor data from prior administrations. We encourage caution in drawing comparisons to other years or administrations.

Questions and feedback about the LCWINS Tracker may be directed to staff@lcwins.org. Media inquiries may be sent to press@lcwins.org.

Key Findings & Analysis

The 2023 LCWINS Tracker indicates a broad level of gender-balance in American national security and foreign policy leadership with room for improvement within specific areas and hierarchical levels.  

By the broadest measure, women represent 45.6% of the 500 filled leadership positions, compared to 49% men, with 5.4% of tracked positions still vacant or unknown; acting public servants are roughly evenly split, but more women than men serve as acting. This overall balance comes within 3.4% of exact par and reflects the Biden administration’s commitment to drawing on the full talent of our nation.

More detailed metrics suggest varying degrees of gender disparity. For example, State Department leadership includes approximately 51.8% women and 48.2% men overall, but there are nearly a third more men in Ambassador and Chargé d’Affaires positions: the top two leaders of American embassies and missions overseas. Likewise, the Pentagon remains disparate with women representing just 33% of military and Joint Chiefs leadership and are outnumbered at every level of the Office of the Secretary of Defense except Deputy Secretary and Chief of Staff. Across all fields, women are underrepresented in seven of the 9 levels of seniority.

The Biden administration’s commitment to gender parity in national security leadership has yielded gender-balanced leadership overall and offers opportunity to further leverage women’s talent and expertise in all related departments and levels of leadership.

  1. Women represent 45.6% of the senior national security leadership positions.

Of the total 500 positions tracked, women serve in 228 (45.6%) and men in 245 (49%). With a 3.4% difference, this data suggests gender balance at the broadest level, the result of the Biden administration’s balanced nominations for roles requiring Senate confirmation. Nearly even numbers continue in Finance & Banking, while women outnumber men overall in the Diplomacy category. Women’s leadership lags, however, in Defense & Security, the National Security Council, and other positions outside the traditional security-focused departments, while almost at-par in the Intelligence Community.

203 of the 500 positions tracked by LCWINS require Senate confirmation. Of those positions, 93 (45.8%) women and 93 (45.8%) men have been confirmed by the Senate, suggesting gender parity across all tracked nominations confirmed and pending confirmation. More men than women are pending confirmation. A more detailed view shows more men than women await confirmation in the Defense & Security and Diplomacy categories, while there are more women than men confirmed in both Diplomacy and Finance & Banking.

  1. Women represent in 40.7% of senior Defense and Security leadership roles.

The LCWINS Tracker includes 140 senior leadership positions with the Military departments, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Women comprise just 33% of senior Military and Joint Chiefs leadership. Those numbers improve for OSD, with approximately 45% of senior roles filled by women and 53% by men, helped by women serving as Deputy Secretary and Chief of Staff.

  1. Excluding in-country ambassadors, women comprise 53.9% of top Diplomacy positions.

Women serve in 89 of the 165 senior leadership positions tracked across the State Department, UN, USAID, USIP, and the Peace Corps (excluding ambassadors serving at overseas embassies). That total includes 3.6% more women than men in tracked senior State Department roles, twice as many women in tracked UN roles, and four times as many women in tracked roles at the others combined.

This healthy gender balance, however, does not extend to U.S. Ambassadors leading our missions overseas. While they are not part of the 500 positions in the formal LCWINS Tracker, the U.S.’ 170 in-country Ambassadorial positions are critical for us to highlight. When assessing confirmed Ambassadors, Chargé(e)s d’Affaires, and Chiefs of Mission, approximately 38.8% are women while 60.6% men. There are 51 (30%) confirmed and actively serving female Ambassadors, while there are 78 (45.88%) male. 29 have been nominated and await Senate confirmation, 17 (58.6%) of whom are women.

  1. Women represent 40% of senior Intelligence Community positions, compared to 44% held by men.

While the entire Intelligence Community is critical to U.S. national security, the LCWINS Tracker includes 25 senior leadership positions, four of which are currently vacant or the person serving in them is unknown. Of the remaining 21, women hold 10 positions and men 11 for a 40% to 44% split.

  1. Women represent 33% of National Security Council (NSC) Staff.

Of the 42 tracked positions at the NSC, only 14 are held by women compared to 21 (50%) men. These numbers are only “Staff” and exclude the 12 Members of the NSC who are included elsewhere in the LCWINS Tracker if their roles fit within departments, agencies, or offices with substantial involvement in American national security and foreign policy (e.g. Secretary of Defense). Their gender balance is worth noting: six (46%) of these roles are held by women and seven (54%) by men when including the National Security Advisor.

  1. Women represent half of senior Finance and Banking positions.

The LCWINS Tracker includes 73 senior leadership roles at the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and various international development institutions that are not traditionally considered part of the national security ecosystem, but nevertheless influence America’s global leadership and standing. This cohort has achieved gender parity overall with women and men filling 33 (45.2%) positions each. Men outnumber women in senior Commerce and Treasury roles, but that is reversed at USTR and the development banks.

  1. Women represent 45.5% of other relevant departments and office's senior national security leadership.

The LCWINS Tracker also includes 55 positions with impact on national security and foreign policy within departments and offices not known for influence in this space. The women and men in these positions at the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Energy as well as the Offices of Management and Budget (OMB), National Cyber Director (ONCD), and Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) play an important role in protecting our country and institutions. Women overall serve in 45.5% of these roles. With 16 positions, the Department of Energy has an equal number of women and men. Of the four tracked cyber and technology positions that are filled, three (75%) are held by women.