Economics is the organising frame for almost every policy decision made by government, and the lack of gender and other forms of diversity in economics is suppressing alternative views on what effective policy looks like. In today’s analysis, Danielle Wood (@danielleiwood) of Grattan Institute provides an analysis of the poor female representation in Australian economics, how this negatively impacts on decisions, and what can be done to address the situation. Danielle is also the Chair of the Women in Economics Network.
Economic leadership positions in Australia remain an almost exclusively male affair. Indeed, the glass ceiling for economic roles has been proved more impenetrable than most. We’ve had a female Prime Minister but not Treasurer, a female CEO of a Big 4 bank but not a Chief Economist, and a female Chief Scientist but never a female at the helm of the Treasury, Productivity Commission, ASIC, APRA or the ACCC.
The ‘women problem’ in economics matters because economics is central to major government and business decisions. How much governments tax and spend, the level of interest rates, the design of policies to tackle climate change and regulate business conduct – all are decisions made by, or at least highly informed by, economists. In the private sector, forecasts of economic activity, exchange rates, and future demand and supply of goods and services can drive billion-dollar investment programs. These decisions have a big impact on the lives of all Australians.