That is an interesting question, posed by William Greider of The Nation in this blog post, published May 8th. The question he posed by him is “If women were in charge of banking regulation, could they save us from the wall street cowboys who crashed the global financial system?”.
Without reading any further, I can give you an answer. No. But lets explore this piece.
That provocative question was the implicit subtext for an all-day conference of banking and financial officials in Washington this week, held at, of all places, the soberly serious International Monetary Fund. The IMF’s managing director, as it happens, is a woman—Christine Lagarde of France—and she appeared alongside an even more powerful woman—Janet Yellen, chair of the US Federal Reserve System. Neither of them was in charge when the system crashed in 2008.
Naturally the last sentence is important to this paragraph. What could we be trying to say?
The IMF event was not a rump rally of feminists who somehow crashed the halls of power. But all of the 18 speakers on various panels were women, prominent as bank regulators or financial authorities. The one-sided gender line-up was not exactly an accident. The men in suits could hardly miss the message.
But just in case they did, IMF Director Lagarde prompted them with a droll question: “What would have happened if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters?”
Not a show put on by a bunch of women in high positions that also happen to be feminists? Could have fooled me.
And the last question, is stupid.
What she meant was that different values might have prevailed if women had held the controlling positions at the brokerage or were the government regulators enforcing prudent standards. Women, as Lagarde has observed, worry more about financial exclusion. Worldwide, 42 percent of women have no access to financial services. Only a measly 3 percent of bank CEOs are women.
More to the point, Largarde said research shows women are more risk-averse—a quality utterly missing in the reckless banks and brokerages rushing like lemmings to the cliff. Women in charge might have asked tougher questions.
Fed Chairwoman Yellen stayed away from the gender question. But Lagarde has invoked “Lehman Sisters” numerous times since the financial collapse and disappointing recovery.
“It takes a great deal of will power to direct the French economy,” Largarde wrote in 2010 when she was France’s finance minister. “I am not doing this for women but as a woman I am, perhaps, more keenly aware of the damage that the crisis has done through greed, pride and a lack of transparency…. I am determined to do everything within my power to change the rules of the game and do my best to ensure that a crisis such as this can never happen again.”
Time to get to the meat of the issue.
The argument being made is that if the roles of the male and the female were reversed, then chances are this whole financial crash would not have happened. It would have been prevented on account to, I guess one could say, prominent instincts common in the feminine personality. Women are naturally less aggressive and more compassionate then men, so these traits would show up in how women of power interact with the world.
It is great in theory.
But like so many other social constructs that people present as paths to a brighter future (anarchism, communism, an alternative domineering sex or race in the world), it fails in the face of human instinct.
You can go to Washington or Wall Street with the best of intentions. But when presented with a big bag of money and many spoils in return for your loyalty, even the most moral person can find themselves in a very conflicted position.
Sure, you can take the high road. But you will not have nearly the same opportunities for growth that you will on the “other” side. Most people inherently want more, which is why the corruption of the current systems of government works so well. It takes a very strong, principled and powerful personality to fight the urge to do what most others would do.
Oh yes, we SAY a lot of things. I would do this, I would not do that. But you never REALLY know, until you are in the situation.
This is why I do not buy into the argument that a world run by women would automatically be a better world. Just as I do not buy into the argument that the world would have been better off if the domineering race had been black, latino, native american, asian etc.
Though we all have differences in behavior that are evident in our differing cultures, we are are all “wired” with more or less the same brain chemistry. This is why I do not give any heed to people that say that the white race should be “ashamed” of their past (and present) persecution of cultures world wide. How about, no.
Yes, the Caucasian race happened to be the race that ended up on top. But as evidenced by conflicts around the world, no creed is immune to infighting. In fact, infighting is not even uncommon in the animal kingdom. It is a part of us. And to be in denial of this is to not be honest.
Frankly, the same goes, when it comes to swapping out women for men as the domineering sex in world affairs. Would the world look different? It is entirely possible.
But I suspect that many of the fundamental issues we are dealing with today in terms of corruption, would still be present in such an alternative world. Simply because both internal instincts of greed and external factors (such as an environment that is heavily rewarding of unscrupulous activities) are overpowering of almost anyone.
This is why you can name many examples of women, latinos, african americans and many other minorities that become just as corrupted by the system as its numerous white males. The system overpowers almost everyone in it.
A good example of such a system, is the mindset of many police departments. Though minorities are often unfairly targeted for violence or lethal force, those within those minorities are at times GUILTY of committing the acts of persecution. The system overrides everything, even their compassion.
“Brooksley Born, Sheila Bair, Janet Yellen, and Elizabeth Warren. If they had been running financial regulation since 1990, we would not have had this crisis!’’
I gotta admit that I have no idea who anyone other then Elizabeth Warren is on that list. But it is still not proving of the assertion (the world would be better, if it is in the charge of women). It is not proving, because we already know of where at least Elizabeth stands on those issues!
I could name many examples of corrupted people of all genders and races. I could also name many examples of people on the right side of the issue. Bernie Sanders is also on the right side of the issue.
Corruption is not a gender problem, and will not be solved by swapping one gender for another. Simple as that.