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Who runs the (economic) world? It might soon be women

AFP  |  Nusa Dua 

Who runs the world? It might soon be women as a crop of female economists join IMF in top positions at major financial bodies.

As the and meet this week in Bali, no longer cuts quite the same lone figure she once did, now flanked by growing numbers of female ministers and economists.

The IMF has just named to replace its outgoing economist Maurice Obstfeld, making her the first woman to hold the post.

Gopinath, 46, a at and of the prestigious American Economic Review, is likely to bring a fresh perspective to the institution, and potentially challenge longstanding positions.

While the IMF has traditionally promoted flexible exchange rates to protect against economic shocks, Gopinath's work has long advocated the opposite.

acknowledged the gap between the Fund's traditional stance and Gopinath's work, saying the Indian-American's "stellar" reputation was built around "the role of the US dollar in international transactions, and the rigidity that it implies".

But she said Gopinath would continue that work at the Washington-based IMF. "I am sure that we will be exploring further and deeper those particular (avenues)," Lagarde added.

"There are not many candidates that I can see at the moment that are prepared to be the currency operators, with the responsibility that comes with it." -

Gopinath is only the latest woman to be appointed to a top economic role, with the in April naming its economist.

The Greek, who has a PhD from Stanford, became only the second woman to occupy that position.

And in June, the (OECD) appointed Laurence Boone, a former to French Francois Hollande, to its post.

In Bali, the trend is on display, with female ministers, central bankers and economists among the speakers and in the audience at sessions.

Among them is host country Indonesia's Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who earlier this week emphasised the importance of visible female role models in top economic jobs.

"has always been seen as man's job," she told a seminar about empowering women in the workplace on the sidelines of the meeting on the Indonesian holiday island.

"Battling this perception that this is a male job and for a woman you have to be an extra, extraordinary to do this male job... That creates a real huge burden."

The 56-year-old, in her second term as after working at the World Bank, regularly finds herself delivering speeches on Indonesia's to majority-male audiences.

At the same panel, Lagarde also urged greater visibility for women across the professional world, and referred to the way champion helped raise the profile of women's tennis in with her recent win over

"Suddenly (women's) tennis became a really powerful sport," the IMF chief said.

"We need to encourage and celebrate women who win." Carolyn Wilkins, senior of the Bank of Canada, said the need for visible role models extended to universities.

"Woman are more likely to choose a major if they know another woman who did the same course," she told the seminar.

But Wilkins remains relatively alone in the top ranks of the world's central banks, still largely a male bastion.

Women have held top positions in the central banks of and Israel, among others, and headed the under Barack Obama, making her one of the most influential figures in the world of monetary policy.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, October 12 2018. 15:35 IST