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Cristina Bodea, Michigan State University and Andrew Kerner, Michigan State University

(THE CONVERSATION) The research summary is a brief overview of interesting scholarly work.

The big idea

According to our new study, Americans are less likely to trust Federal Reserve statements on interest rates when a U.S. central bank official portrays as a woman providing the information as opposed to a man.

Women held just 11% of seats on central bank boards around the world from 2000 to 2015. Our previous work suggested that one of the main reasons for this was that the legislators who occupy these seats saw women as less trustworthy in prioritizing the fight against inflation, unlike men, who are seen as monetary policy “hawks”.

To better understand how gender shapes public reactions to central bankers, we conducted a survey experiment in January 2022 in which we gave easy-to-understand summaries of contemporary Fed statements to a random sample of about 11 000 Americans, equally divided between men and women.

We randomly assigned these summaries to real people — either Loretta Mester, president of the Cleveland Fed, or Charles Evans, who heads the Chicago branch. This allowed us to gauge whether the words of a central banker would be perceived differently from those of a male colleague. We also changed their titles, randomly referring to the Fed man or woman as “Chairman of a Federal Reserve Bank and Ph.D. Economist” or simply as “Economist of the Federal Reserve”. This allowed us to see whether highlighting qualifications minimized any gender bias, as studies suggest in professional contexts.

We then asked participants a series of general questions, such as their level of education and self-reported economic literacy, as well as their level of trust in state and federal institutions. We then asked our top questions about confidence in the Federal Reserve in particular, optimism about the economy, and their concern about inflation and unemployment.

As expected, we found strong evidence of bias against female central bankers among male respondents. Gender bias was most prominent when we asked about trust in the Fed. For example, 53% of men surveyed said they had confidence in the central bank when Evans was cited as a source – with the full Fed title – compared to just 43% who said the same about a Mester in qualifications. similar. Similarly, 32% said they were optimistic about the economy when the summary came from Evans, double the share from Mester.

We were also able to see this bias in the ability of the men interviewed to remember the gender of the official. Only 60% remember accurately at the end of the survey the gender of the civil servant when it is a woman, while 97% remember the gender of the man accurately.

Results from female respondents showed little to no gender bias – although females showed more confidence in Mester when given his full title.

why is it important

Women have made inroads in recent years into male-dominated leadership roles in central banks around the world.

The share of women on central bank boards has risen from negligible at the end of the 1990s to over 15% in recent years. In the United States, half of the six members of the Fed’s Board of Governors are currently women. And women, including Mester, are presidents of five of the Federal Reserve’s 12 regional banks. And in 2014, Janet Yellen became the first woman to chair the Fed.

In one of our articles, we suggested that a big reason for these gains is that developed countries like the United States experienced very low inflation for much of the 21st century, which negated the need for consider a candidate’s perceived inflation-fighting credentials as part of the nomination. to a central bank.

Those days are over as inflation soars around the world. In the United States, for example, consumer prices are rising at about the fastest rate in 40 years, forcing the Fed and other central banks into a global battle against inflation.

Since a key part of reducing inflation is convincing investors, businesses and consumers to believe that the central bank can succeed, our study suggests that female central bankers like Mester are at a disadvantage in generating trust. of the public, which undermines their effectiveness as communicators. It could also jeopardize the trend to increase the number of female central bankers unless perceptions change.

And after

We have ongoing Japanese and European surveys to understand if we see the same types of gender bias in other countries.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/men-dont-trust-female-central-bankers-on-inflation-or-the-economy-survey-data-shows-191409.

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