Can women help clean up the world's economic mess?

Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:30am EDT
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By Jane Merriman

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Would the world economy have got into such a mess if more women had been in charge - is a difficult question to answer.

The economic crisis, though, could put a spotlight on what women offer as leaders who could help repair the damage.

"We'd love to think it would make a difference," said Ruth Sealy, deputy director of the International Center for Women Leaders at Cranfield University.

Sealy said the crisis is bringing to light academic research, which includes studies showing that mixed management teams make better decisions and are more innovative.

Goal-driven (mostly male) management teams in the financial services industry have been blamed for a culture of excessive risk-taking that has crippled the global banking system.

"Would greater gender balance in decision-making have produced a different outcome? Probably," said Alice Eagly, Professor and Chair of Pyschology at Northwestern University.

"Psychological research suggests that women are somewhat less willing than men to take extreme risks."

In management-speak, men's leadership style is known as "transactional" which is basically carrot and stick.   Continued...

<p>A woman is reflected in a rain puddle along with the Ferry Building following a steady rain in San Francisco, California March 2, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith</p>