The Last Gentlemen’s Club

LONDON – Is one of the last bastions of gender inequality in the rich democracies finally starting to crumble? In the past few weeks, Janet Yellen was nominated as the first female chair of the US Federal Reserve Board, and Karnit Flug became the first woman to be appointed Governor of Israel’s central bank. If money is power, then women must no longer be excluded from controlling the supply of it.

Although women do head central banks in 17 emerging markets – including Malaysia, Russia, Argentina, South Africa, Lesotho, and Botswana – they are the exceptions that prove a general rule: women are excluded from the world of monetary policymaking.

Yellen’s appointment is particularly important, because she breaks the glass ceiling in the advanced economies. Until her promotion, no member of the G-7 had a woman heading its central bank.

Moreover, men occupy all 23 seats on the European Central Bank’s (ECB) Governing Council. Since the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee was established in 1997, only three women have been appointed as external members – and no woman has even been nominated since 2002. The Bank of Japan has only one woman on its Policy Board.