Carney Bemoans All-Male Rate-Setting Committee at BOE

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said today the lack of women on the nine-member Monetary Policy Committee is “striking” and the bank needs to nurture female economists in its ranks.

“It is anomalous, it’s striking,” he said in an interview on BBC Radio 4 today. “What we have to do at the Bank of England is grow top female economists all the way through the ranks. That adds to the diversity in macroeconomic thinking, it adds to qualified candidates for the MPC including qualified candidates to be a future governor.”

No woman has sat on the nine-member MPC since Kate Barker left in mid-2010. Carney’s comments are the second on the status of women in the U.K. in less than 24 hours, after he said yesterday the harassment of campaigners for a woman to appear on U.K. banknotes was “shocking.”

“Mark Carney is absolutely right to criticize the lack of women on the MPC,” said lawmaker Catherine McKinnell, Treasury spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party. “To make matters worse there are currently no women ministers in the Treasury either.”

Bookmaker Odds

Sheila Dow, emeritus professor at the University of Stirling, is the favorite to become the next female MPC member, according to odds offered by bookmaker Paddy Power Plc. Dow, who was a BOE economist in the 1970s and also worked at the department of finance in the Canadian province of Manitoba, is at 3/1, meaning a successful $1 wager would win a $3 profit.

Janet Henry, chief European economist at HSBC Holdings Plc in London, is at 4/1, with Melanie Baker of Morgan Stanley at 5/1. Diane Coyle, head of Enlightenment Economics, is at 7/1, followed by Bridget Rosewell, a senior partner at Volterra Consulting, at 12/1. Lucrezia Reichlin, a professor at London Business School, is at 14/1.

Carney’s remarks, coming a day after he introduced policy guidance at the BOE, may reflect a mandate from Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to revamp the 319-year-old institution and revive economic growth. Lawmakers have warned the bank must guard against “groupthink” when it sets monetary policy.

“It’s certainly a new angle,” said Victoria Clarke, an economist at Investec Securities in London and a former central bank official. “He was appointed by the chancellor with the idea that he should shake up the BOE, and I assume having the right balance of male and female economists across the bank is important for ensuring the variety of debate they’re looking for.”

Twitter Abuse

Carney said yesterday people who harassed women lobbying for 19th-century novelist Jane Austen’s image to appear on U.K. banknotes should be prosecuted.

Journalist Caroline Criado-Perez, who led a campaign to get Austen’s image on the currency, complained about sexual abuse from comments posted on Twitter. Labour Party lawmaker Stella Creasy also reported abusive comments posted online, including a rape threat, to police. Police have arrested and bailed three men in connection with the allegations.

“It was shocking, it should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Carney said in a Channel 4 television interview. “This institution, myself personally, have nothing but admiration” for the women who raised the issue.

The campaign arose after Carney’s predecessor, Mervyn King, announced that former Prime Minister Winston Churchill would replace Elizabeth Fry, a 19th-century social reformer, on the five-pound note starting in 2016. The change would have meant no female historical figure appeared on U.K. banknotes. Carney said last month an Austen note would appear within a year of the Churchill note.

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