Monday, November 29, 2010

Biological necessity for having more women in top economic posts

In an editorial last week, The Financial Times strongly supported the appointment of more women to boardroom roles, saying that the “number of women on UK boards is lamentably low”, thus echoing what I wrote here some time ago. But The Financial Times uses different arguments, based on diversity and equal opportunity. The case that I would like to make for more women being on boards of companies and in top economic positions is perhaps a little more radical. It is based on biological differences between male and female brains which, in many instances, works to the advantage of women and ultimately to that of society as well.

One such difference is that women, through biological inclination, are more risk aversive than men. This is, I think a biological imposition, since women have to think more carefully of building a stable environment for growth of the family in as prosperous social conditions as possible. It is likely, therefore, that they would be more prudent in their management of the economy. Had I been in power, I would probably insist that the job of Minister of Finance (in Britain, Chancellor of the Exchequer) should always go to a woman; I would probably also want to ensure that a woman is minister for housing and perhaps even for army supplies. I do not believe that men are as good at these jobs. In fact, as it turns out (also reported in The Financial Times some time ago and about which I wrote here), “the more women there were in a company’s management [in France], the less the share price fell in 2008”.

It is interesting to note that, in the latest documents released by Wikileaks, one from a US diplomat in Berlin describes the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, as “risk aversive” – presumably pejoratively.

Well, we know what all those risk-prone men in top economic jobs, together with their male economic advisors, did to the world economy.
So perhaps being risk aversive in certain areas is not such a bad thing after all.

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