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Gender imbalance in central banks

by OMFIF Analysis

Thu 9 Mar 2017

Gender imbalance in central banks Enlarge Chart loading Image

The world of central banking is highly unbalanced when it comes to gender, and the disequilibrium seems to be getting worse, according to the 2017 OMFIF Global Public Investor Gender Balance Index. The index tracks the balance between men and women in senior positions of central banks around the world, weighted by level of seniority.

Gender balance is especially weak for the post of central bank governors – only 6.5% of central banks are headed by women. This share corresponds to 12 institutions: the US Federal Reserve; Central Bank of the Seychelles; Maldives Monetary Authority; Central Bank of Samoa; Central Bank of Cyprus; Bank of Israel; National Bank of Ukraine; Central Bank of Lesotho; Central Bank of the Russian Federation; Central Bank of Aruba; Central Bank of Belize; and National Bank of Serbia. This figure is down from last year’s level of 15.

The terms of four governors from last year’s cohort ended in 2016, with their posts being filled by men. This includes Zeti Akhtar Aziz of Bank Negara Malaysia, Maria do Carmo Silveira of the Central Bank of São Tomé and Príncipe, Wendy Craig, governor of the Central Bank of Bahamas, and Linah Kelebogile Mohohlo of the Bank of Botswana.

A newcomer to the group of female central bank chiefs is Joy Grant, appointed governor of the Central Bank of Belize in September 2016. She is joined by two women deputy governors, earning Belize the fourth spot globally in a separate ranking on female participation in central banking.

Of the 12 women governors, eight will see their terms finish before the end of the decade. While gender will not be the key factor when selecting their successor – and rightly so – it should be one that is at least considered.

There are some signs that female central bank participation is gaining momentum. Apart from the appointments of Grant and Hogg in Barbados and the UK respectively, Ireland has contributed to the trend by appointing Sharon Donnery as the country’s first female central bank deputy governor. Overall, there are 52 countries with either a female governor or deputy governor and 146 with a woman on a decision-making committee.