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Men Still Control the World’s Money

Men Still Control the World’s Money

Topless and with the words “SOS Davos” painted on their chests, members of the Ukrainian women’s rights group FEMEN clashed earlier this week with police in Davos, Switzerland, where the World Economic Forum being held. The resulting images of half-naked women yelling as helmeted men dragged them away in pink fog are a powerful statement about the disenfranchisement of women on their own.

While a woman, Christine Lagarde, heads the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard University President, were speaking at the World Economic Forum, women are as much shut out from its corridors of power as ever. Lagarde, Sandberg and Faust were all speaking at a panel on women leadership but, as Bloomberg points out, at the next panel Lagarde spoke at, she was the sole woman; the others — central bankers, current and former cabinet ministers, the head of an international institution — were all men.

The number of female delegates at the 39-year-old forum remains stuck at 20 percent. If you exclude moderators of panels, the majority of the bankers and policy makers discussing “Global Financial Context” and the executives and lawmakers on the “Global Energy Context” were all male, says Bloomberg. A statement from the forum points out that 17 percent of delegates are now female, certainly an increase from 2002′s 9 percent; 22 percent of the speakers were women. Much was made of women’s achievements with Ernst & Young and Forbes magazine holding a reception for the “100 Most Powerful Women,” including Sandberg and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

But even as we celebrate these women’s accomplishments, the task remains of increasing the numbers of women at all levels of the finance world. Huguette Labelle, chief of Transparency International and the only women of the forum’s six co-chairs, emphasizes that “we cannot move forward without much greater gender parity at all levels.” Women only comprise  17 percent of independent directors at companies in the Standard & Poor’s stock index, barely a change from 2007′s 16 percent level of 2007, according to a November report.

Speakers at a women’s leadership panel pointed out that CEOs need to go beyond “lip service” about having women in leadership positions, says Lubna Olayan, deputy chairwoman and CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Olayan Financing Co. Facebook’s Sandberg pointed out that “women are held back by the soft stuff that people don’t talk about.” The IMF’s Lagarde encouraged women to “explain, dare, stand up.”

It’s all good advice, though how exactly women can trust it will be all right for them to “dare” and “stand up” in a male-dominated corporate environment is far less easily articulated.

Why the Davos Man Doesn’t Get It

South Korean businesswoman Kim Sung Joo, who chaired the successful election campaign for her country’s first female president, made a key point about why we need more women at all levels of the finance world. “The debate is still dominated by males frustrated by the crisis created by male-oriented industries,” she noted, pointing out that the forum is overlooking a “shift from a manufacturing to a knowledge, Internet-based economy.” “Cheaper access” is needed to bring in a far wider “spectrum of delegates including younger leaders,” not to mention the forum’s own image as a gathering of suited businessmen sipping vins des glaciers, attending well-ordered panels in hotels while activists get dragged off by police outside.

It is not only FEMEN activists and women CEOs who think the “Davos man” has plenty of defects to warrant a “re-engineering” of the whole industry. The Economist cites a survey that only 18 percent of respondents think businessmen are telling the truth. The problem is that, for all the talk of global leadership,

People whose jobs require constant whizzing through airports often overestimate the extent of globalisation. Most other folk live in the same country all their lives. Most trade occurs within national borders. Nearly all politics is local. ….The best global leaders need to immerse themselves in local cultures.

What I find intriguing about this statement about how to reform global leadership is that it is similar to the point made by foreign policy expert and Princeton professor Ann-Marie Slaughter about how more women in foreign policy positions could really change the world:

But many women are more likely than many men to see the world from the bottom up and connect the dots, for example, between America’s living up to its word by preventing mass killing on a horrific scale in supporting the Libyan opposition against a murderous regime and beginning to change perceptions of the United States among young people not only in Libya but across the Middle East. And women add sheer diversity to the mix of issues we should rate as important; I well remember the horror of a male colleague at the idea that we would be working on food security, one of Clinton’s priorities.

“Ordinary folk trust Davos Man no more than they would a lobbyist for the Worldwide Federation of Weasels,” the Economist underscores. We need to make sure that “Davos Woman” does not simply created herself in the image of her male counterpart.

If she needs some inspiration she should, on the advice of South Korea’s Kim Sung Joo, take a look beyond the chanderlier-lit ballrooms and read the chests of the Ukrainian women the police are taking into custody.

Related Care2 Coverage

Why Women Having It All Could Change Foreign Policy

Did the White House Even Try to Prosecute Wall Street Execs?

4 Years Since Ledbetter: Here’s What We Still Need On Equal Pay

 

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120 comments

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8:43AM PDT on Apr 1, 2013

More women who think public nudity is the answer to protesting a male dominated world. Who's listening to what they might have to SAY when they're parading around naked? Who's taking them seriously? What ineffectual and childish foolishness.

9:31AM PDT on Mar 28, 2013

Well men have been in control for age's and to be honest look where it has got us, most countries are in various stages of crisis due to economy issues and to be truthful men have the power so how could anyone be so blind to not see that men just may not have what it takes. Unless of course going down the drain is what you wish for.
Certainly all women are not capable of taking over and many would not wish to but its definate that some should be given the opportunity before all is lost. It a proven fact women can have kids and men can not so maybe women can solve some problems that men quite apparentally can not.

9:04AM PST on Feb 6, 2013

I doubt anyone really knos who controls all the world's money. Men n women both do, i'm sure.

4:28AM PST on Feb 6, 2013

Obviously more power should be given to women. Not all of it. I think men and women should work together for better results.
I, however, do not think that the women in the FEMEN group will be getting what they want like that. It doesn't make people turn around and say, "Wow, those are responsible women. We should let them have a say on our money." On the contrary, it makes people think that those women have no idea how to get what they want, therefore once they have it they won't know how to use it.
It's all about your presentation; how you look and how you behave.

5:48AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

Pogle S.,

That is not the way to have your Rights; that is backwards and in humane way for women to think of their men in their life, Plus, I doubt it actually works, because it is still needed to be used.

5:33AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

As for peace vs war--even the United States military leaders claim they would rather divert some of the money being spent on American military hardware to greener energy to cut down on fighting over resources. It would be necessary to spend and equal amount on BUYING displaced fossil fuel to make that idea politically feasible--Exxon Mobil, Peabody Energy, other too big to fail fossil fuel firms have plenty of money to buy plenty of political power and thus have veto power over any change in energy policy that would cost them anything.

4:40AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

Men may still be in control of the worlds money but the women are in control of those men!

3:01AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

Thanks

5:49PM PST on Feb 4, 2013

To everyone,

In an earlier today comment I used the term 'colored people', I should never use that term, I AM SORRY!!! That is a term that has used by sick & evil times and people, and you cannot rehabilitate such terms.

10:51AM PST on Feb 4, 2013

Linda R.,

“This story really gets my blood flowing(no pun intended). Most men have no clue what it is to stick to a budget, set one, negotiate for cheaper prices etc.. Yet who makes most of the decisions for the world market? When will they finally realize that women have more common sense and understand human nature better than they do? Oh I do know some men that can do these things but for the most part it is the woman that has the responsibility.”

What most of these type “MODERN OR FEMINIST” women (I WOULD SAY MAJORITY OF WOMEN I KNOW BELIEVE THIS; HECK, IN MY FEMALE RUN FAMILY, I BELIEVED THIS DECADE OR SO AGO!) seem to miss (ALONG WITH THE SEXIST MEN OUT THERE; NOT SIDING WITH EITHER OF THE SEXIST SEXES) is that TO USE CHARACTERISTIC OF HOW WOMEN ARE BETTER THAN MEN IN WHATEVER (WHICH IS GENERALIZING, TO ANY PERCENTAGE- MOST, HALF, FEW OR ETC.) IS SEXIST!!! JUST NOT SEXIST AGAINST YOUR OWN SEX!!! SEXISM CAN HAPPEN TO EITHER SEX, IN OR OUT OF POWERFUL POSITIONS. TO ME THE PROBLEM IS NOT WHICH SEX IS BEING SEXIST AND NOT IN POWER, IT IS THAT WHEN THESE SEXES GAIN POWER WHAT THEY BECOME (EX. LIKE IN MY FAMILY, BOTH SEXES WERE BAD)!!!

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