Ann Owen, the Henry Platt Bristol Professor of Economics, presented Women in Key Leadership Positions = High Performing Financial Institutions at the Federal Reserve of Richmond to bank CEOs, board members, and senior managers on Dec. 4. Her presentation was based on her research titled “The Performance Effects of Gender Diversity on Bank Boards” published in The Journal of Banking and Finance and co-authored by Judit Temesvary, a principal economist at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and a former Hamilton economics professor.
Owen's presentation was part of a day-long symposium, Building Stronger Financial Institutions: The Power of Gender Diversity in the Boardroom & the C-Suite and was broadcast over the Fed intranet to all the Fed district banks and the Board of Governors.
One of the main points of Owen's presentation was that increased gender diversity of boards can improve bank performance, provided that the banks are well managed. In addition, she discussed the role of social networks in recruiting board members and how that practice may inhibit efforts to improve the representation of women in senior leadership positions in finance. Reflecting on her presentation, Owen said, "This was a great opportunity to translate the findings of our research to a group of decision-makers who had the ability to make positive change in the banking industry."
Owen also spoke to American Public Media's Marketplace on Dec. 9 in a segment titled Paul Volcker’s battle against inflation pushed interest rates up to 20%. She commented that, "Fed Chairman Paul Volcker was trying to tamp down inflation, which was in double digits [in the early 1980s]. The goal was to slow down price increases by making borrowing more expensive.
“It made it difficult for people to buy houses, buy cars — credit card interest rates were extremely high,” Owen said.