Washington - Today, as part of the State Department Authorization Bill that passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) successfully included an amendment to encourage greater participation of minorities and women in the foreign service and throughout the Department of State. The provision, which largely replicates a similar provision that was enacted into law in 2002, mandates data collection on the recruitment of woman and minorities in the Department of State and mandates increased outreach efforts to those groups.

"I am a big supporter of promoting and encouraging diversity at all levels of our society, and in particular, our government. This is why I am continuing the effort to ensure that the foreign service reflects the diversity that characterizes America. Our foreign service is stronger when it represents the wide range of backgrounds and experiences that Americans bring," said Menendez.

As of the end of last year, women made up 44 percent of the Department of State's workforce. In real terms, this equals about 2000 fewer women than men. During fiscal year 2009 and 2010, the Department hired men 59 percent of the time and of the specialists hired by the Department of State during this same timeframe, only 26 percent of them were women. Of all those who registered for the Foreign Service Written Exam in 2008 only 7.3 percent were Hispanic and in 2009, only 6.8 percent were Hispanic. Hispanics make up about 15 percent of the U.S. population.

Click HERE to read the amendment.