Isabel Schnabel: Women are central, not just in central banks

Speech by Ms Isabel Schnabel, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, at the Meeting 2020 of the Verein für Socialpolitik, Frankfurt am Main, 28 September 2020.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
29 September 2020

Economics is one of the fields in which women are underrepresented. This has been acknowledged for some time and numerous measures have been implemented to improve the situation. Nevertheless, the substantial gender imbalance has proven to be very persistent. Since central banks recruit mostly economics graduates, a similar imbalance is apparent in their staff numbers - something that the European Central Bank (ECB) is determined to change.

In my remarks today, I will start by summarising some of the underlying causes that contribute to the underrepresentation of female economists overall. I will argue that this imbalance is a possible reflection of overt and covert barriers to career progression, many at the institutional level. The imbalance may also be reinforced by self-fulfilling expectations, whereby the low representation of women at the top of the field discourages those at both entry level and at more advanced career stages from continuing their careers, causing them to leave the profession prematurely.