What if women ruled the City?

Would a healthier gender balance have helped us to avoid our recent testosterone-enhanced crash?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Now that we find ourselves in a recession, it's time to work out what or who is to blame for the mess. Interestingly, much of the thinking is based along gender lines. Some argue that it was an excess of macho tendencies that led to foolish City risk-taking. If there had been more women around to balance out the toxic levels of testosterone in City institutions, then perhaps fewer mistakes would have been made.

It's a radical argument that has stirred up plenty of debate - but is it true? Would the world be a different place if women had been running our financial institutions? MT asked City veteran Nicola Horlick, CEO of Bramdean Assets, for her opinion: ‘Women have a totally different approach to life,' she told us.

‘They are less concerned about grabbing as much as they can for themselves and have a greater desire to build firm foundations that will endure. I have absolutely no doubt that the world would have looked totally different if women had been in charge.'

‘It is no surprise to me that things got out of control,' she continues. ‘It was a huge power game, where more and more risk was being taken, with vast rewards for the winners.' Now that this way of doing things has come under scrutiny, it comes as no shock that ways of rectifying past mistakes are being experimented with, not least the acceleration of more women into the traditionally male-entrenched ranks of City institutions.

Because women, it is supposed, bring different qualities to the table; qualities that balance out damaging testosterone-driven behaviour, and replace it with something more sound. Women, according to some, are more risk aware than men. It's an argument that is being taken seriously by the Icelandic government, which recently appointed two women to lead its newly-nationalised banks. It's out with the old, and in with the new.

But is it going to work? And should the UK be more proactive in following the Icelandic lead? To learn more about this divisive issue, read MT's latest feature ‘Let Women Tame the Macho Excess'.

In today's bulletin:
Lloyds and HBOS ease terms ahead of crackdown
Government presses ahead with flexible working changes
Heads Roling at EMI as Terra Firma woes continue
Qantas: BA's decent proposal
What if women ruled the City?

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