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Women 'must get involved in central banking'

16/10/13

While the financial services market has made great strides when it comes to gender equality over the last few years, with many firms losing their reputation for having a macho environment, central banking and regulation posts are still dominated by male candidates.

According to Diane Coyle, who runs the London-based consultancy Enlightenment Economics, economics remains one of the most masculine professions, rivalled only by physics and computer science in this regard.

With this in mind, Ms Coyle hailed the appointment of Janet Yellen to lead the US Federal Reserve as a milestone for the sector and a positive step for a profession that has come under a great deal of criticism in the last few years.

Writing in the Financial Times, she pointed out that women tend to be less interested in macroeconomics, perhaps because of how it is taught in universities. Instead, they look to applied areas such as the economics of health or education.

"The most important reason for welcoming Ms Yellen's appointment, however, is the need for independent central banks to have legitimacy in their societies, especially at such an important time for economic policy," she declared.

Given the high levels of scrutiny and criticism the financial sector has attracted in recent years, it is obvious it needs to do whatever it can to improve its reputation and keep the public on-side.

Driving up gender diversity at the highest level is one way to do this, especially after the likes of the International Monetary Fund's managing director Christine Lagarde suggested having more women as executives could make banks safer and more risk-averse.

"It is unacceptable to have monetary policy and financial regulation remain almost entirely male territory," concluded Ms Coyle.

According to a recent Oxford University study for the Building Societies Association, falling diversity in the world of financial services could reduce the sector's resilience as well as its potential for innovation.

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