If women ran Wall Street? Geithner likes the idea

Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:24pm EDT
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By Karey Wutkowski

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If women ran Wall Street, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's job cleaning up the bloodied financial markets might not be so tough.

In opening a Women in Finance Symposium that brought together top female government figures such as Sheila Bair and Mary Schapiro, Geithner said he recently read an article asking what it would be like if women ran the hyper-competitive money hub of the United States.

"It's an excellent question. But kind of a low bar," Geithner joked, eliciting laughs from the gathering in the historic Treasury Cash Room. "How, you might ask, could women not have done better?"

The symposium featured the leading female figures working with Geithner to right the financial markets and economy, as well as craft new rules to police banks, Wall Street and the markets.

They touched on their awe at being in their positions of power, as well as the isolating feeling of being in the minority at major conferences and meetings.

"The good news is there's no line for the ladies' room," said Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor who heads the Congressional Oversight Panel which keeps an eye on the government's $700 billion financial system bailout.

Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, was ranked by Fortune magazine as the second-most powerful woman in the world. At the conference, she struck out against the Wall Street culture that Geithner referenced in his opening remarks.

Bair said not much has changed, especially when it comes to the ego-driven paychecks that led to big risks and a financial collapse.   Continued...

<p>Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Sheila Bair (L) and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro laugh during a panel at the "Women in Finance" Symposium at the Treasury Department in Washington, March 29, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Reed</p>