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The odds of the European Central Bank getting its first female president one day could improve if governments looked a little harder at the talent available.
After a year in which politicians appointed 13 men and no women to the ECB’s Governing Council, the 25-member body currently has just one female policy maker. That matters, because experience in setting monetary policy is the traditional route to the presidency. All the prime contenders to replace President Mario Draghi this year are male.
Central banks the world over are afflicted with gender imbalance, even as the politicians who choose the technocrats claim a commitment to equality. While a shortage of female economists and top bankers is often cited as a reason, it doesn’t take long to scour the euro zone for women who might have what it takes. Here’s a selective list of 10.
The Bank of Spain deputy governor has spent two decades dividing her time between the ECB and her national central bank, with a focus on supervising lenders. She holds a degree in economics and business studies from Madrid’s Complutense University, and is the first woman ever to become the Spanish central bank’s second-in-charge. It has never had a female governor.
The Bank of France deputy governor’s name pops up occasionally as a potential ECB president, though she’d have to leapfrog her male boss. A longtime political insider, 54-year old Goulard spent eight years in the European Parliament and was a contender in 2017 to become French prime minister. She was eventually made defense minister before resigning amid an ethics scandal, but staged her comeback by joining the Bank of France last year.
Should Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann become ECB chief then Buch, his deputy at the German central bank, might be promoted. The 53-year old joined the Bundesbank in 2014, and already represents it at Governing Council meetings and international gatherings such as IMF meetings. She was previously a member of the German government’s panel of economic advisers, only the second woman to have taken on the role.
The Portuguese central bank’s vice governor holds a PhD in economics from the U.K.’s Reading university and spent more than a decade at the European Parliament, where she called for the ECB to be given more powers to monitor financial stability. She was considered a contender to become the euro zone’s top bank supervisor but opted not to apply when that post was advertised by the ECB last year.
The Irish deputy governor has been beaten to top jobs twice in six months by men, first the chair of the ECB’s bank-supervision arm and then the governorship of the Irish central bank where she’s worked for more than two decades. She’s about to do a three-month stint as acting governor though, adding to a resume that includes the lead role on the ECB’s taskforce on non-performing loans.
Vice president of the European Investment Bank since last year, Navarro previously had a key role in Spanish policy working with Luis de Guindos, the then-minister for the economy who is now the ECB’s second-in-command. After a brief stint leading a state-owned credit institution, she became secretary general of Spain’s treasury and in that capacity sat on the Bank of Spain’s governing council.
The deputy director general of the ECB’s monetary policy department is a 43-year old Frenchwoman whose job puts her at the heart of economic planning. Marseilles-born Valla started her career at the ECB as an economist in 2001 and returned last year after a decade in high-level private and public-sector roles, including at Goldman Sachs and the European Investment Bank. She has a PhD in monetary economics from the European University Institute in Florence, and is a skilled violinist.
The chief economist of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has been in her role for just under a year, and has extensive experience in the private and public sectors. She was previously chief economist at insurer Axa, and has worked for Bank of America and Barclays Capital. The 49-year old was a special adviser to former French President Francois Hollande from 2014 to 2016, serving as his representative to the Group of 20 and helping craft France’s position during the Greek debt crisis.
Reichlin was the ECB’s director of research under former President Jean-Claude Trichet before becoming an economics professor at London Business School a decade ago. The 64 year-old Italian was a pioneer in nowcasting, which aims to analyze the economic outlook using close-to-realtime data, and is a non-executive director at UniCredit Banking and AGEAS Insurance.
Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg
Greek and U.S.-national Goldberg has served as chief economist of the World Bank since last year. She previously held faculty positions at three Ivy League universities in the U.S., and in 2011 became the first female editor-in-chief of the American Economic Review. Her professional focus has been on trade and development.
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