March 8, 2018
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
Interviewed by Catherine Rampell, Opinion Writer at The Washington Post
On International Women’s Day, Johns Hopkins SAIS sponsored a presentation with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Washington Post Opinion Writer Catherine Rampell. The discussion focused on diversity and gender equality, trade wars, and the world economic and financial outlook.
Lagarde is the first woman to hold the position of Managing Director of the IMF, appointed in 2011 and reappointed in 2016. Throughout her career, she has broken through 'glass ceilings' by becoming France's Minister for Foreign Trade in 2005 and the nation's Finance and Economy Minister in 2007 as the first woman to hold that job in any G7 country.
Lagarde spoke not just about the gender divide in the workplace, but the cultural one as well. She highlighted the role of laws and leadership in keeping women economically and socially vulnerable in the labor force, or conversely, elevating them from it. She also pointed to the subtle forms of sexual harassment that were left out by the #MeToo movement, specifically their differing cultural interpretations. In addition, Lagarde emphasized the advantages of cultural and gender diversity to challenge the group-thinking that occurs in a homogeneous environment, thereby leading to a better decision-making process and better outcomes.
On the matter of economic and financial trends, Lagarde noted that preparation is key: when growth is good, she said, countries should build buffers and use their fiscal spaces to implement reforms that will improve their productivity and capacity. With regard to a potential trade war, Lagarde said she hopes for the continuation of trade and investment as an engine for worldwide growth and recovery.