Scandal turns into opportunity for first female IMF chief

Photo of Christine LagardeIt was announced yesterday that French finance minister Christine Lagarde has been chosen to lead the International Monetary Fund after Dominique Strauss-Kahn was forced to resign after his arrest for sexual assault.

Until the US announced it’s support for Lagarde yesterday morning, it was unclear whether she or Mexican central bank governor Agustin Carstens would be the pick.

It’s a huge step for a woman to be chosen to lead such a prominent economic player in the world economy. Economics continues to be a field dominated by men, and the vote of confidence given to Lagarde by this appointment demonstrates the impact feminism has had internationally.

About Lagarde:

France’s Christine Lagarde, the first woman to head the International Monetary Fund after winning crucial US backing, has made a career of breaking glass ceilings. The silver-haired and silver-tongued finance minister skipped a French establishment career after getting her law degree and instead joined the Paris office of prestigious US legal consulting giant Baker & McKenzie.

Over 18 years she pushed her way up to become chairwoman of the company’s global executive committee in 1999, a first for the firm, and then of its global strategy committee in 2004. Then in 2007 she became France’s and the G7’s first female finance minister, earning a reputation for grace under fire during the global economic crisis.

But as we’ve quickly learned with the ascent of women in politics and government, a woman in power does not guarantee a leader who prioritizes the needs of women. The role and work of the IMF is complicated and we’ll have to wait and see what impact Lagarde has on it’s overall direction.

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