Osborne Picks BOE Deputy as Gender Imbalance Prompts Criticism

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is about to name a Bank of England deputy governor as political pressure mounts on him to address the lack of women in top jobs at the central bank.

No woman has served on the nine-member Monetary Policy Committee since Kate Barker left the panel in 2010. Osborne told Bloomberg News in February that there is a “good deep field” of male and female candidates for the deputy governorship. He will announce the appointment today, according to a person familiar with the matter.

All five MPC appointments since Osborne took office in 2010 have been men. Governor Mark Carney has said he’d raise the issue with the chancellor, and the opposition Labour Party has said the gender imbalance is evidence of a “problem with women” in the Conservative Party.

“The fact that the MPC has gone almost four years with no women has made the issue even more pressing,” said David Tinsley, an economist at BNP Paribas in London and a former central bank official. “It’s ridiculous that they’ve got themselves in this situation where the MPC is so unbalanced.”

Carney last year described the lack of women on the MPC as “striking” and said the bank needs to nurture female economists in its ranks. Of the 27 applicants to succeed Paul Tucker as deputy governor for financial stability last year, fewer than five were women, according to the Treasury.

Potential Candidates

Since the central bank was granted operational independence from the government in 1997, only four of the 34 people who have served on the MPC have been women. The new deputy governor will replace Charlie Bean, who is due to step down on June 30 after extending his term by a year to help Carney’s transition as governor.

London Business School professor Lucrezia Reichlin is the favorite, according to the most recent odds offered by bookmaker Paddy Power Plc. She was at 11/8, meaning an $8 winning wager would yield a profit of $11.

Other potential female candidates are International Monetary Fund official Nemat Shafik, who previously worked at the U.K.’s Department of International Development, Melanie Dawes, director general of the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat at the Cabinet Office, and Ruth Kelly, global head of client strategy at HSBC Global Asset Management.

Within the BOE, possible appointees include Chief Economist Spencer Dale, Markets Director Paul Fisher and Monetary Policy Committee member Ben Broadbent. Paddy Power had Dale as second favorite as of yesterday, at odds of 15/8.

An announcement by Osborne today would come on the eve of his budget and coincide with Carney’s latest step in his revamp of the BOE. In a speech in London this evening, the governor may reveal his long-term strategic plan for the central bank after a review by consultants McKinsey & Co.

Bean’s replacement will serve a renewable five-year term, overseeing economic forecasting and analysis as well as the bank’s markets divisions. The job pays an annual salary of 258,809 pounds ($431,000).

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