What happens when women run the economy? We’re about to find out – Successful Farming

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By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON, April 6 (Reuters) – Women now hold many of jobs
controlling the world’s largest economy – and they’re trying to
fix it.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Commerce Secretary Gina
Raimondo and trade czar Katherine Tai hold top jobs in U.S.
President Joe Biden administration and many of his economic
advisers also are women, as are nearly 48% of his confirmed
cabinet-level officials.

This sea change may already be affecting economic policy –
a new $2.3 trillion spending plan introduced by Biden last week
includes $400 billion to fund the “care economy,” supporting
home- and community-based jobs taking care of kids and seniors,
work normally done by women that has mostly gone unacknowledged
in years past.

The plan also has hundreds of billions more to fix racial
and rural-urban inequalities that were created in part by past
economic, trade and labor policies.

Yellen says the focus on “human infrastructure,” and the
earlier $1.9 trillion rescue bill should result in significant
improvements for women, whose share of the workforce had hit
40-year lows even before the crisis, and for everyone else as
well.

“In the end, it might be that this bill makes 80 years of
history: it begins to fix the structural problems that have
plagued our economy for the past four decades,” she wrote on
Twitter, adding, “This is just the start for us.”
Women leaders can bring fresh perspective to economic policy,
experts say.

“When you’re different from the rest of the group, you often
see things differently,” said Rebecca Henderson, a professor at
Harvard Business School and author of “Reimagining Capitalism in
a World on Fire.”

“You tend to be more open to different solutions,” she said,
and that is what the situation demands. “We’re in a moment of
enormous crisis. We need new ways of thinking.”

EMPATHY, STABILITY

Over the past half-century, 57 women have been president or
prime minister of their countries, but institutions that make
economic decisions have largely been controlled by men until
recently.

Outside the United States, there’s Christine Lagarde at the
helm of the European Central Bank with its 2.4 trillion euro
balance sheet, Kristalina Georgieva at the International
Monetary Fund with its $1 trillion in lending power, and Ngozi
Okonjo-Iweala at the World Trade Organization – all jobs held by
men a decade ago.

Overall, there are women running finance ministries in 16
countries, and 14 of the world’s central banks, according to an
annual report prepared by OMFIF, a think tank for central
banking and economic policy.

The limited measures available suggest women have a better
track record of managing complicated institutions through
crisis.

“When women are involved, the evidence is very clear:
communities are better, economies are better, the world is
better,” Georgieva said in January, citing research compiled by
the IMF and other institutions.

“Women make great leaders because we show empathy and speak
up for the most vulnerable people. Women are decisive … and
women can be more willing to find a compromise.”

A study by the American Psychological Association showed
that U.S. states with female governors had fewer COVID-19 deaths
than those led by men, and Harvard Business Review reported that
women got significantly better ratings in 360-degree assessments
of 60,000 leaders between March to June 2020.

Women account for less than 2% of CEOs at financial
institutions and less than 20% of executive board members, but
the institutions they do run show greater financial resilience
and stability, IMF research shows.

Eric LeCompte, a UN adviser and executive director of a
non-profit that advocates for debt relief, said he noticed a
clear difference during a meeting with Yellen and the leaders of
Christian and Jewish faith groups last month.

“I’ve been meeting with Treasury secretaries for 20 years,
and their talking points have been entirely different,” he said. “In every area we discussed, Yellen put an emphasis on empathy,
and the impact of policies on vulnerable communities.”

Her male predecessors had a “brass tacks” approach that
focused first on “numbers not people” and never mentioned words
like “vulnerable,” he said.

THE GLOBAL SHE-SESSION

The stakes are high.

The global recession related to the coronavirus pandemic is
actually a “she-session,” many economists say, because of how
hard it has hit women.

Women comprise 39% of the global workforce but account for
54% of overall job losses, McKinsey found in a recent study. In
the United States, women accounted for more than half the 10
million jobs lost during the COVID-10 crisis https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-women-jobs/pushed-…,
and over 2 million women have left the labor force altogether.

Bringing these women back to work could boost gross domestic
product by 5% in the United States, 9% in Japan, 12% in the
United Arab Emirates and an astounding 27% in India, the world’s
largest democracy, the IMF estimates.

The rise of female leaders should lead to “a more inclusive
– in the true sense of the word – response to the many, many
challenges that are the legacy of COVID,” Carmen Reinhart, the
World Bank’s chief economist, told Reuters.

Tai, the first woman of color to lead the U.S. Trade
Representative’s office, has told her staff to think “outside
the box”, embrace diversity and talk to communities long
ignored.

Okonjo-Iweala, also the first African to head the World
Trade Organization, which oversaw trade flows of nearly $19
trillion in 2019, said addressing the needs of women will mark
an important step toward rebuilding deeply eroded faith in
government and global institutions.

“The lesson for us is (to) make sure … that we don’t sink
into business as usual,” said Okonjo-Iweala, who was also
Nigeria’s first female finance minister. “It’s about people.
It’s about inclusivity. It’s about decent work for ordinary
people,” she told Reuters.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Additional reporting by Karin
Strohecker; Editing by Heather Timmons and Andrea Ricci)

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