Missing Figures: Women's Underrepresentation in IFI Leadership

Research highlights the gains to the quality of policymaking from diversifying the body of policymakers. International financial institutions (IFIs) appear to agree, all issuing diversity, equity, and inclusion statements. But how do these institutions perform when it comes to their own staff—do they lead by example? We put together a unique dataset of 20 years of HR staffing data from seven major IFIs that are collectively responsible for more than a quarter trillion dollars of lending and employed 33,775 individuals in 2022. The picture is quite mixed: on the one hand, the share of women in any management position has almost doubled over the past two decades, from 20 percent in the year 2000 to just under 40 percent in 2023. The share of women in senior management (observed for a subset of 5 IFIs) grew from around 5 percent to around 30 percent in the same period. On the other hand, not one IFI has achieved gender parity across managerial ranks. Women make up almost 70 percent of the administrative support grades, but only about 35 percent of managerial grades. Senior management positions are less diverse again, with the proportion ranging from six percent to about forty percent. When it comes to boards (appointed by shareholders rather than by the institutions themselves) the situation is even worse: fewer than one in five IFI board members are women. In the professional ranks, many IFIs are close to or even beyond parity, but men are still disproportionately likely to make it out of professional ranks into the managerial ones.

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