How Sexism Brought Down the World Economy

Julie Matthaei sent the post below to the listserv. It started a lively discussion, which is being continued on the Blog. You can add your comments.

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How Sexism Brought Down the World Economy!

Julie Matthaei’s original post:

Brigsley Bourne, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and expert on derivates,  “not only warned of the potential for economic meltdown in the late 1990s, but also tried to convince the country’s key economic powerbrokers to take actions that could have helped avert the crisis.”   See the story unfold in this fabulous PBS FRONTLINE about a woman regulator’s “warning” that was ignored by Greenspan, Reuben, Geithner, and the Congress, and wonder whether it would have been heeded  — and the world financial meltdown averted — if she had been a man, or if sexism wasn’t still so rampant.    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/

Julie Matthaei

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RESPONSES:

From Sandy Darity:

Well, I’m not so sure about this one. There were a number of male economists who
warned of the meltdown also who were ignored. I think the primary barrier was
ideological/political in this case rather than sexism per se.

From Linda Pinkow:

I saw the Frontline program. It showed Bourne confronting the gang of powerbrokers. It felt like one of those overwhelmingly sexist environments … it felt familiar to me. And wouldn’t we all agree that Larry Summers has proven himself to be a blatant gynophobe?

Yes, left male economists were certainly ignored, sometimes derided. That doesn’t change the fact that Bourne was treated worse because of her gender.

From Ian Fletcher:

With respect, I must observe that any number of /men/ were ignored who warned about the same problems. And Wendy Gramm wasn’t exactly FDR.

If sexism is a problem on Wall Street, in my experience it has far more to do with the pseudo-macho culture of aggression and risk-taking for its own sake.

Thorstein Veblen nailed that one perfectly a long time ago.

From Hannah Thomas:

I’m curious how this compared to the hearings with Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas?

From Bob Keener:

Quick thought: I’ve been closely watching Elizabeth Warren (and other women) trying to go against the male-dominated Wall Street and big business lobbies (see the US Chamber of Commerce). I’ll bet she would report that sexism is alive and well in those circles….

From Andrea Hornbein:

I guess the point has been made but I’m reminded of the treatment of Attorney Lynne Stewart who engaged in the exact same activity in defense of her client, the “blind sheikh” Abdur Rahman, as another of his defense, Ramsey Clark, and is now serving 28 months in a NYC jail.  (tangentially; for an interesting expose on the manipulation of facts and fear in his and her convictions there’s “Islam and Terrorism: Myth vs Reality” by Mauri Saalakhan.) Although a male codefendant of Lynne’s is serving 24 years this can be “explained” by virtue of his being of the Islamic faith, a group quite possibly at the very bottom of our settler state hierarchy (along with the Pope’s other “Saracens, pagans and infidels”.)


2 thoughts on “How Sexism Brought Down the World Economy

  1. I think that it is a very real issue.

    There have been quite a few articles and studies discussing whether the latest bubble would have occurred if more women were involved in running the show. … see for example
    Nicholas Kristof http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/opinion/08kristof.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=lehman%20sisters&st=cse.

    Meredith Whitney was virtually the only Wall Street analyst at the time who said the numbers weren’t adding up. And one only has to look at the last Presidential campaign season to see that sexism is more than alive and well, even amongst the most “liberal.”

    Best,

    Nina

    Like

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